IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release

November 18, 2002

No. 02-27

(301) 585-4000
Contact:
Mokie Porter


VIETNAM VETERANS OF AMERICA MOURNS THE LOSS OF LYNDA VAN DEVANTER

Lynda Van Devanter and family.

Lynda Van Devanter  

 

(Washington, D.C) – Lynda Van Devanter, one of the nation’s foremost women’s veterans advocates, died November 15, at her home in Herndon, Virginia, after a long illness. “This is an extremely sad occasion,” said Thomas H. Corey, national president of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA). “Lynda was a giant in the field of veterans affairs. She was a forceful and effective advocate for all veterans. She was a valued friend, a devoted colleague, an accomplished nurse, and a loving mother and wife. She will be missed terribly.” 

Lynda Van Devanter, who was born in 1947, served as a U.S. Army nurse at the 71st Evacuation Hospital in Pleiku from 1969-70. In 1979, a year after the founding of Vietnam Veterans of America, she helped launch and became the head of VVA’s Women’s Project. Van Devanter was on the original implementation and training team for the Readjustment Counseling Service (RCS), otherwise known as the VA Veterans Outreach Centers. She also began counseling other Vietnam veterans, conducting seminars around the country, and speaking at colleges and universities. 

Van Devanter worked with Senator Daniel Inouye to secure legislation that started the process toward women veterans receiving equal status and care at VA hospitals. While instrumental in legislatively creating the Advisory Committee on Women Veterans, VA at that time deemed her “too controversial” and refused to name her among the first members of the committee. Marsha Four, who also served in Vietnam as a surgical nurse and is currently Chair of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee on Women Veterans at VA, noted, “Lynda brought a voice to thousands upon thousands of women veterans across America. Her strength, energy, and staunch advocacy were key in raising awareness and securing additional care and benefits for women veterans and children with birth defects.”  

In 1983, she wrote a highly acclaimed memoir, Home Before Morning, which was reissued in 2002. “Lynda’s book stands as one of the most powerful, evocative, and influential Vietnam War memoirs,” said Marc Leepson, the arts editor of VVA’s national newspaper, The VVA Veteran. “Home Before Morning changed people’s attitudes about the women who served in the Vietnam War, especially the nurses who faced the brutality of the war every day and whose service was all but ignored during the war and in the years immediately after.” 

Vietnam Veterans of America honored Lynda Van Devanter with its Excellence in the Arts Award in 1987 and with the VVA Commendation Medal in March of 2002. “It was the least we could do to recognize what Lynda has done for America’s veterans. She truly exemplified our motto, ‘In Service to America.’ Her loss is a tragedy for her family and for all Americans who care about veterans,” said Corey. 

Funeral services will be held at St. Timothy's Episcopal Church in Herndon, Virginia, at 2 p.m., on Wednesday, November 20, with internment to immediately follow at Chesnut Grove Cemetery. A viewing will be held at the Adams-Green Funeral Home from 6 to 8 p.m., on Tuesday evening, November 19, and a second viewing will be held from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, November 20, at the same location. For more information contact the Adams-Green Funeral Home at (703) 437-1764. 

She is survived by her husband Tom Buckley, her daughters Molly and Bridgid, her mother, Helen, four sisters, and countless friends.

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Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is the nation's only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families.  VVA's founding principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”

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