The Vietnam War is one of the most debated topics of the twentieth centuryâ€”this is reflected in the endless amount of books, articles, documentaries, and Hollywood productions that have emerged about the topic. Much of the historiography of the conflict, as well as mainstream popular literature on the war, all share a disturbing omissionâ€”very few include any thoughtful reflection whatsoever on the role that American women served in Vietnam. There are very few works devoted to this important part of womenâ€™s history, and the ones that exist are primary sourcesâ€”mostly collections of personal narratives of those women who served. Hardly any scholarly work done on the topic- most secondary sources that are available are not by professional historians. Scholarly articles were practically non-existent in history journalsâ€”most appeared in nursing journals and focused more on the medical aspects. Most general books and texts on the Vietnam War (including Mossâ€™ Vietnam, An American Ordeal, Fourth Edition) gloss over, if not skip entirely, the role of women in Vietnam. .
So why have historians not chose to look at this topic in greater detail, especially since there have been multiple studies on women in the other American wars? There are a few possible explanations as to why there is such a lack of scholarly study of this historically-important group of American women. Many of the official military and Department of Defense records are scarce, spotty, and incomplete. It is still unclear how man American women, military and nonmilitary, served in Vietnam. Statistics on civilian women who served in Vietnam are even harder to gather.
Another possible reason these women have been ignored is that they were comparatively small number and many Americans simply do not realize that women played an active role in the U.S. war effort. The women that most Americans remember from this era fell into two archetypesâ€”the wives and other family members waiting for their soldiers to return, or the â€œhippieâ€ women anti-war protestors who tried to persuade men from going to war.