Vietnam War nurse receives American Legion’s highest honor

PHOENIX, Aug. 31, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Vietnam War combat nurse Diane Carlson Evans of Helena, Mont., received The American Legion’s…

PHOENIX, Aug. 31, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Vietnam War combat nurse Diane Carlson Evans of Helena, Mont., received The American Legion’s most prestigious award, the Distinguished Service Medal, Tuesday, Aug. 31, at the organization’s 102nd National Convention here.

The recognition is based on her wartime service, leadership to create the Vietnam Women’s Memorial in Washington, D.C. in 1993, continued advocacy for her Vietnam War veterans and in appreciation of her 2020 autobiography, «Healing Wounds:  A Vietnam War Combat Nurse’s 10-Year Fight to Win Women a Place of Honor in Washington, D.C.«

The life member of Helena American Legion Post 2 flipped the script in a ceremony meant to thank her for a life of achievements. «I believe this prestigious award says more about you than it says about me,» she told thousands gathered at the Phoenix Convention Center. «I see today as finally my opportunity to say thank you to The American Legion … I am here to thank you for what you did, not for what I did.»

She recounted the importance of American Legion support – from her local post in Wisconsin at the time through a national resolution in 1985 – in advancing her vision to give wartime women a place of permanent honor in the nation’s capital. The organization stood by the project through Veterans Day 1993, when it was dedicated.

«I had to prove to the Legionnaires that I was serious,» Carlson Evans said. «I never dropped the ball, but you kept it in the air for me, and helped fulfill the dream of a national monument to honor my sister veterans, the first in the history of the United States honoring military women, on the national mall in Washington, D.C.«

Carlson Evans served on The American Legion’s 100th Anniversary Honorary Committee and received the organization’s national Patriot Award in 2018.

As a recipient of the medal, Carlson Evans joins such figures in American history as Presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan; Gen. John Pershing and Dwight Eisenhower; Sens. Robert and Elizabeth Dole; Dr. Jonas Salk; Babe Ruth, Bob Hope, Henry Kissinger and the Dead and Missing from the Vietnam War.

With a current membership of nearly two million U.S. military veterans, The American Legion, www.legion.org, was founded in 1919 on the four pillars of a strong national security, veterans affairs, patriotic youth programs and Americanism. Legionnaires work for the betterment of their communities through nearly 13,000 posts worldwide. From the drafting of the original GI Bill to the creation of the Department of Veterans Affairs, The American Legion is the most influential voice for America’s veterans.  Members of The American Legion live by the organization’s motto, «Veterans Strengthening America.»

Media contacts: Jeff Stoffer (317) 630-1333, jstoffer@legion.org        

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SOURCE The American Legion