MAKERS Profile

Diane Carlson Evans

Army Nurse & Founder of The Vietnam Women's Memorial Project

In this video

Army nurse Diane Carlson Evans served in the Vietnam War, saving the lives of thousands of soldiers. On the home front, she fought another hard battle: Working for a decade to build the country’s first national monument dedicated to women in the military - all while raising four kids with her husband of more than 30 years.

Why She's a MAKER: When the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was unveiled 35 years ago, Carlson Evans noticed that the hundreds of thousands of women who served in the war weren't recognized. "We've always kept women invisible," says Carlson Evans, who lobbied for nine years to build the Vietnam Women's Memorial, the first national monument dedicated to women in the military. "It will be there for kids to see and to know that women can be brave and courageous, too."

From Farmlands to Front Lines: Carlson Evans, who grew up on a Minnesota dairy farm, went to nursing school in 1966. But, inspired by an aunt who served in World War II, she left to volunteer for the Army Nurse Corps at age 20. Two years later, she got off a plane and walked into a burn unit in Vung Tau.

A Woman At War: Carlson Evans remembers that her fellow nurses were too concerned with patients to worry about their own safety. "Women, we're fierce. We're like mama bears. It was my job to take care of those men," she says. "Did I think that was brave? No, it was my job."

A Tireless Warrior: Today, Carlson Evans still advocates for veterans - particularly for mental health. After her own battle with post-traumatic stress disorder, she now serves multiple organizations that perform research into the psychological effects of war. 

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