Sisterhood of War


What People are Saying



Sisterhood of War on FacebookReaders are invited to join the conversation on Facebook.

February 8, 2012

Dear Kim and Sisters,

As a Navy nurse, I cared for casualties from Vietnam from 10/65 through 12/68…yes, including the time surrounding Tet ’68.

Since reading Sisterhood of War, I have spent countless hours reopening my cache of imperishable memories of that time.  Thank you all for sharing yours!

Kim, you did a masterful job of weaving riveting memories into answers to your research questions. …

Thank you, thank you, Kim and all participants, for this project and the book.  I am waiting for a sequel – there is so much more to tell!

Cheers and hugs to you all,

Donna Quinney Hendel

• • •

I served as a corpsman on Guam in 1968-1969 with a fantastic group of doctors, nurses, and corpsmen who dealt with hundreds of wounded from Viet Nam. These men and women were fantastic and pressed through all the difficulties in their lives to give exceptional service to their patients.

I want to thank you for sharing the stories of a few women of that era. It is my hope that you will continue with other books that will allow more of these people to tell their stories. It will have a profound therapeutic affect on them and those of us who read their stories.

Thanks for all you have done for those who have served.

Robert (Bob) Payne
Navy Corpsman 1967-1971
Surgical tech at Naval Hospital Guam
Currently in Escondido, CA

• • •

WOW.  Just finished this tear-stained great book.  I was in the Army late '66-'68, drafted, got out and went to the U of MN, so much of your book was relevant to many of my experiences.

…this story needs to be told to the adults and youth of today and tomorrow.  It cannot be shelved as if it didn't happen or wasn't important.  This was thankfully the last of the wholesale, gruesome medical experiences of our country, where GIs were fodder for the DOD I hope!!  …

Thank you so much for this book and moreso to the women who "wrote the stories." WOW.

Jim Kottmeier
Enlisted Vietnam Era Veteran  1966-1968
US Army Joint Forces Strike Command
Currently in Grinnell, Iowa

• • •

"I am so very grateful that you chose to share your research and work with us... What you have done by allowing the nurses to tell their stories seems to be a truly honest and powerful way to say thank you.

...I am personally impressed with your book and the balance you struck between academic analysis of the lives of these women and honoring their stories. It is a book that I will recommend to many others."

            Cindy Christian, Director, Royal D. Alworth Institute
University of Minnesota Duluth


I cannot say enough good things about this book. It is real. It is authentic. It is the first book that I've seen about military nurses in Vietnam that combines the reality of Vietnam nursing as it was 40 to 50 years ago and the beginnings of historical analysis that can occur only after a few decades have passed.
…If you have any interest at all in nursing and/or in the Vietnam war, read this book. Don't stop where the text stops. Read the extensive notes that take up the last 30 pages of the book. There is a lot of good material there, as well as in the interviews.

--Sharon Wildwind,  Story Circle Book Reviews
To read full review, click here

…All too rare are books that work as effectively with oral history material, that incorporate multiple voices into interpretive accounts.  In Sisterhood of War we hear these individual voices and get to know the narrators, but we also glimpse the larger historical context, an approach I applaud.

Forming the backbone of this book are the interviews with fifteen former military nurses.  The author spoke multiple times with the majority of the women featured in this book, allowing for increased depth, and also perspective shifts over time.  Excerpts and paraphrased sections alike demonstrate quality in approach and application.  Additional source material is balanced and provides an historical framework - these include secondary sources, government documents, and newspaper and other media.  Heikkila has done her research, and it shows.

Sisterhood of War makes an important contribution to the field of state and local history.  Heikkila goes well beyond the publication of edited interviews to compose a narrative history of fifteen Upper Midwest women, of a certain profession, in a specific time and place.  But she also links these human stories to the larger context of US history of the Vietnam era, and beyond.  Indeed, I feel one of the strongest aspects of this book is how Heikkila develops and explores the postwar experiences of her narrators, for here is where we see the true impact on these women but importantly society as well.  These latter chapters, arguably my favorites, are carefully and poignantly written.

In sum, Sisterhood of War is solidly researched and well written, and it represents an important addition to existing oral history accounts of women’s experiences during and after the Vietnam era.  Through her smooth narrative style, Heikkila brings to life the stories of these Minnesota women and makes them accessible for a wide readership. 

--Thomas Saylor, Ph.D.
Professor of History, Concordia University--St Paul

A vivid account of the heroism and heartbreak of fifteen Minnesota nurses who served in the Vietnam War.  With clarity and insightfulness, Heikkila describes why these women served and what they experienced both during and after the war as they fought for their own personal healing and public recognition of women’s wartime service.

--Kara Dixon Vuic
Author of Officer, Nurse, Woman:
The Army Nurse Corps in the Vietnam War



Cliff Buchan, "Saying Thanks to a Vietnam Nurse, Women who Served" and "Remembering War's Nurses" Forest Lake Times, March 28, 2012

Kim Ode, “Women in Wartime,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, September 24, 2011

Laura Weber, “Far from a Footnote,” Minnesota Magazine, Fall 2011

Judy Woodward, “’Sisterhood of War’: Minnesota nurses open up about the trauma they felt treating soldiers behind the front lines of Vietnam,” Villager, September 14-27, 2011