If male veterans went through hell after they returned from Vietnam, then female veterans went through hell to the third power. For over a decade after the war, the veterans health system known as the V.A. denied that PTSD, or post traumatic stress disorder even existed. Veterans by the hundreds and thousands numbed themselves with booze or drugs. No one know exactly how many veterans died at the hands of the system that was supposed to help them A lot of veterans think it's more the fifty eight thousand who died in combat.
Female veterans who were used to being ignored by the system and disrespected because they were women quietly formed support groups on their own. It was women helping women. Even after the government had to admit that PTSD actually existed, few V.A. hospital had treatment in place for women's health problems. Female veterans were examined in the same spaces as men. Many women complained about the lack of privacy. It was a very long time before the V.A. finally responded. It was the movies and television that put the spotlight on the plight of veterans. "China Beach" showed the general public what women in uniform went through "In country." Platoon was the movie that made the American public see what insanity war really is. Attitudes started changing. For the first time in a quarter of a century, I could wear a veterans hat with the name of my war on it.
Veterans organization belatedly invited women to join. In Los Angeles, they threw a parade for us. Women were welcomed. About time!
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