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Physician to give voice to nurses’ stories from Vietnam

Kay E. Schwebke, MD, MPH, medical director of Long Term Care Center at Northfield Hospital, and Diane Carlson-Evans, former Northfielder and founder and chair of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial Project, will speak Thursday evening, Oct. 8, at St. Olaf College about the courage and fortitude of nurses who served in Vietnam and whose service is memorialized by the Vietnam Women’s Memorial in Washington, D.C. Their presentation begins at 7 p.m. in the Viking Theater in Buntrock Commons.

Their talk, “Echoes of War: Vietnam War Nurses and Their Stories,” addresses the anguish, the heartache and the pride the nurses internalized after serving in battle zones and experiencing the trauma of war. They will talk about how those experiences echoed throughout the nurses’lives and how they have coped with the aftermath.

The project is based on interviews with nurses who served in Vietnam during the 1960s and ’70s. Its genesis came from listening to a researcher discuss the prevalence of post-traumatic stress among women who served in combat zones. Sharing stories about traumatic events is critical to beginning the healing process, Dr. Schwebke said. She wanted to give nurses an opportunity to talk about their experiences.

“I realized there were many important stories that needed to be told, and I had to keep those stories alive,” she said.

The presentation is co-sponsored by St. Olaf College Department of Nursing, Northfield Hospital & Clinics and the Northfield Historical Society. The event is free and open to the public. A reception will follow the presentation.