Captain Diane Carlson Evans, ANC RVN served as a nurse in the United States Army during the Vietnam War. Diane Carlson Evans is the Founder of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial Foundation (formerly the Vietnam Women’s Memorial Project), and former President and CEO of the Board of Directors.
Carlson Evans was born and raised on a dairy farm in rural Minnesota and graduated from nursing school in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Upon graduation, she joined the Army Nurse Corps and served in Vietnam from 1968-1969. She served in the burn unit of the 36th Evacuation Hospital in Vung Tau and at Pleiku in the 71st Evacuation Hospital. Including her one year in Vietnam, she completed six years in the Army Nurse Corps.
Evans envisioned the idea for a memorial to honor over 265,000 women who served during the Vietnam war. A former Army combat nurse and Vietnam veteran she led the ten-year struggle to complete the circle of healing with the placement of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial. Although the eloquent wall of names at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. lists the names of eight women nurses who died in Vietnam, Evans felt deeply that the memorial, with its statue of three fighting men, did not acknowledge adequately the women. In her words, “…women are also soldiers. Women also need to heal. Their service is worthy of honor and recognition.” That recognition took place on November 11, 1993 with the dedication of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial.
In 1984, Evans incorporated the Vietnam Women’s Memorial Project as a non-profit organization. Its mission encompasses three broad objectives: to place a Memorial honoring the women who served during the Vietnam war at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.; to identify the women who served, document their needs and facilitate research to address those needs; and to universally educate about the service of women during the Vietnam war.
Today she serves as Chair, Vietnam Women’s Memorial/Eastern National Advisory Group and liaison to the National Park Service Regional Representative on the Mall, Washington DC. The Foundation was located in Washington, DC. She testified before every Congressional and federal agency hearing in Washington, D.C. regarding site and design approval for the Vietnam Women’s Memorial, was instrumental in developing the design competition performance for the Vietnam Women’s Memorial and for conceptualizing the three-day Patriotism and Courage to commemorate the dedication in Washington, D.C. Ms. Evans currently volunteers for the Eastern National and National Park Service efforts on behalf of the VWM. Evans participates in educational activities throughout the United States, speaking at universities and schools and before civic and humanitarian organizations. Her work today focuses on readjustment services for veterans.
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