TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) Colmery-O'Neil VA Medical Center hosted a recognition event Tuesday to honor women veterans of the Vietnam Era. Key note speaker Louise "Lou" Eisenbrandt, RN, shared memories and photos from her time as an Army nurse for the 91st Evacuation Hospital, Chu Lai, South Vietnam, 1969-1970.
"It was a period of time that many veterans didn't talk about," Eisenbrandt said," and I felt there was a need to keep it fresh in people's minds." For that reason, she wrote "Vietnam Nurse: Mending & Remembering."
Eisenbrandt, who has Parkinson's Disease from exposure to Agent Orange while she served in Vietnam, joined the Army to see the world. At the age of 22, she was sent to Chu Lai, on the northeast coast of South Vietnam.
She shared pictures and memories from her time as an Army nurse, including the bunkers where she lived, the emergency room she worked in, and how she'll never forget the sound of helicopters bringing injured or dead soldiers to the hospital.
March 29th is Vietnam Veterans Day, which Eisenbrandt learned for the first time Tuesday. She said recognition for Vietnam Veterans is long overdue.
"People from the previous wars came home to parades and celebrations. And that didn't happen after Vietnam," she said. "In fact, many of the guys came home to comments like, 'baby killer,' 'family destroyer,' that sort of thing, because it was not a popular war."
Nearly 10,000 women served in the Vietnam War, in Vietnam. Eisenbrandt also believes they did not get the recognition they deserve.
"We served. And we did a good job of it," she said. "I think more of us could have gotten bronze stars and recognition for our service."
On Tuesday morning, at the Topeka VA Medical Center, a group of Women Vietnam Veterans did get special recognition. They received Vietnam Era Commemoration Pins from the U.S. Department of Defense, as well as certificates of appreciation.