CPT Diane Carlson Evans, Army Nurse Corps, Republic of Vietnam (born 1946) is a former nurse in the United States Army during the Vietnam War and the founder of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial located at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Evans initiated and led the effort to completion.
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, at age 21, in 1968-1969. She served in the burn unit of the 36th Evacuation Hospital in Vung Tau and at Pleiku in the 71st Evacuation Hospital, a few kilometers from the Cambodian border in the Central Highlands; casualties arriving just 10 to 20 minutes by helicopter from the field. Including her one year in Vietnam, Carlson Evans completed a total of 6 years in the Army Nurse Corps.
Carlson Evans attended the dedication of the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial (the “wall”) in 1982. Following the dedication of the statue of three soldiers at the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in 1984, Carlson Evans founded the Vietnam Women’s Memorial Project, to honor the service of American military women who served during the Vietnam War era. She worked from 1983 through 1993 to establish the Vietnam Women’s Memorial, lobbying federal authorities for permission to build a memorial to the 11,000 military women who served in Vietnam and the 265,000 who served around the world during the Vietnam era.
It was a ten-year effort with seven years of testimony before three federal commissions and two congressional bills for Evans and her supporters to earn permission for the memorial. Once permission was granted, more than 300 artists entered a major design competition in 1990. Sculptor Glenna Goodacre, of Santa Fe, New Mexico, submitted a design that received honorable mention and was selected as the statue that replaced the design “Nurse” by Rodger Brodin which was used as a fundraiser during the early days of awareness-raising. The Goodacre statue now stands on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The bronze sculpture is 7’0″ tall with four figures, 3 women and a wounded soldier. The Vietnam Women’s Memorial was dedicated before a crowd of thousands on November 11, 1993, with remarks from then Vice President and Vietnam Veteran Al Gore.
Since the dedication of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial in 1993, Carlson Evans has remained active in the veteran’s community. As Founder and President of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial Foundation, she speaks nationally about the experience of women in wartime. She and her husband, of forty years plus, have four children and seven grandchildren.
Award and honors include:
* Honorary Degree: Doctor of Humane Letters from Haverford College, Pennsylvania
* Honorary Degree: Doctor of Humane Letters from Sacred Heart University, Fairfield,
* Honorary Degree: Doctor of Humane Letters from Carroll College, Helena, Montana
* National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs “Advocate of the Year” Award
* Governor’s Excellence Award, State of Minnesota
* “Outstanding Civic Achievement Award” by the USO, Washington, D.C.
* “Vietnam Veteran of the Year” award from the Wisconsin Vietnam Veterans of America
* “Woman Agent of Change’ by the AAUW (American Association of University Women)
* “Woman of Distinction” by the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders
* “Woman of the Year, Jesse Bernard Award” Center for women’s Policy Studies, Washington,
* “National Special Service Award” by BRAVO (Brotherhood of all Veterans Organizations)
* “Veteran of the Year Award” by VIETNOW
* “Service to Mankind” Award by the SERTOMA Club
* “Gold Medal of Merit” by the Veterans of Foreign Wars
* The Lillian D. Wald “Spirit of Nursing” Award, New York City
* World T.E.A.M. Sports Hall of Fame Inductee
* Sigma Theta Tau International Award
* Montana Amnesty International Human Rights award
* DAR Medal of Honor, Daughters of the American Revolution
* Lifetime Memberships were awarded to Ms. Evans from The American Legion, Veterans of
Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, and Vietnam Veterans of America.