By: Keri Luise, Staff Writer
Photo by Keri Luise/ The Towerlight
Towson University’s Military and Veterans Center hosted the “Week of Valor: Reflections of Vietnam” for students to honor those who have served and are currently serving our country.
Among these events were a live museum, a dialogue highlighting the life of women during the war, an obstacle course, an appreciation banner and screenings of the films “Platoon” and “GI Jane.”
Benz Armstrong, director of military and veteran services, said that this week of events was held with the purpose to “raise awareness within our TU community to remind us that we shall never forget.”
“We would like to honor those that paid the ultimate sacrifice, and still continue,” Armstrong said.
The Vietnam live museum put visitors in an interactive environment within the jungles of Vietnam during the war. People could hear the sounds of the war, feel the bamboo and even look at the different artifacts from both the Viet Cong and the U.S.
“From talking to students this week, they are very excited and eager to learn more about [the Vietnam War] because it was a war that they understood when the U.S. went in two different directions of pros and cons,” Armstrong said. “It’s important because these things might not be talked about within our history books; we tend to forget things that aren’t always brought up to our attention because there’s so much going on.”
Jane McCarthy was a nurse in Vietnam during the war. She came to Towson Wednesday to talk about her life as a female warrior and the challenges she faced while in the military and thereafter.
McCarthy grew up in a small town in Massachusetts, and went to nursing school in Boston at the Massachusetts General Hospital School of Nursing in the 1960s. During this time, McCarthy lost many friends in the war and decided she wanted to do something to help.
“I would be a nurse soon and I thought, ‘What would have more purpose than to go into the army and take care of the wounded?’” McCarthy said.
She worked in Bethesda at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in the recovery room and intensive care unit. After a few months working there, McCarthy was out on order for her last year to go to Vietnam.
McCarthy was stationed at the 95th Evacuation Hospital in Da Nang, Vietnam. She explained the process of how she would treat the wounded and those who would not survive while a nurse in Vietnam.
While in Vietnam, McCarthy applied to a couple of colleges, but got no response from the army.
“I hand-wrote an eight-page letter to Ted Kennedy, my senator, and six days later the chief nurse came running down and she said, ‘Lieutenant McCarthy, go pack your bags. You’re out of here.’ And that was my goodbye party from Vietnam. I was glad to get out, but there was no welcome home.”
McCarthy got accepted to Indiana University. When she came home from Vietnam, she felt very lost and had a hard time transitioning over to typical civilian life again. During her time at Indiana University, she said she got seriously depressed.
“I had classic PTSD before it was discovered,” McCarthy said. “I would sleep every other night. When I did sleep, I dreamt about being in Vietnam and it was very scary.”
Over time, McCarthy said she has felt very appreciated and is proud of what she did as a nurse in Vietnam.
“I still go home to march in the Memorial Day parade to remember the high cost – to remember all those that sacrificed their lives and hopefully to remember to help us from doing it again,” she said.
Going from being in a war scene to coming back to basic life can be a difficult transition for many veterans.
According to Armstrong, the Military and Veterans Center works to help military and veteran students “transition into student civilian life through providing resources and services readily available to them.”
This “Week of Valor” was held not only to honor those who have served and currently serve, but also to spread awareness of the sacrifices and difficult lives veterans live.
“It helps the community get a very small glimpse of military culture and the sacrifices of those made,” Armstrong said. “If we could help spread awareness in our community, then our students could be more humbling or be more aware of the sacrifices that we chose to defend our great nation. And that hopefully, in the future, it would be easier for traditional students and the military and veterans to coincide and bridge that gap of understanding and inclusion and things that President Schatzel’s top priorities are when she talks about inclusion and diversity.”