WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--U.S. Army combat veteran Diane Carlson Evans of Helena, Mont., who led the movement to place on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., a memorial honoring women who served in the Armed Forces during the Vietnam War, received The American Legion’s prestigious Patriot Award for 2018 Tuesday at the organization’s 58th Washington Conference.
Carlson Evans, a member of The American Legion’s 100th Anniversary Honorary Committee, was a combat nurse in 1968 and 1969 and later served in stateside military medical facilities. Supported by a 1985 American Legion national resolution, she spent eight years raising money and clearing bureaucratic hurdles to get the Vietnam Women’s Memorial dedicated on Veterans Day 1993.
She has since been a leading national voice for women veterans and all who served during the Vietnam War.
“Diane Carlson Evans is, first and foremost, a wartime veteran,” American Legion National Commander Denise H. Rohan said before presenting the award to Carlson Evans. “She volunteered to serve deep in the combat theater of Vietnam. She put her life on the line – often in terrible conditions and under deadly enemy fire – to save others. When others in our country were looking for ways to get out of the war, she was asking for ways to get into it.”
In the early 1980s, Carlson Evans introduced a resolution at her local American Legion post in River Falls, Wis., and shepherded the idea of a women’s memorial on the National Mall through The American Legion’s Department of Wisconsin and to the organization’s National Executive Committee, whose resolution fueled the effort.
“My vision needed a champion,” Carlson Evans told hundreds of American Legion Family members gathered Tuesday for the conference. “I knew I couldn’t do this alone. The American Legion never hesitated.”
“It is wholly within her character … how she single-handedly led a difficult movement that continues today to honor the wartime service of women in the military, to reverse stereotypes and inspire future generations,” American Legion 100th Anniversary Honorary Committee Chairman Ted Roosevelt IV said at the award presentation. “Diane Carlson Evans, I salute you.”
“I want you to know, and hope you know, how much your investment has ensured the legacy of women veterans, particularly of the Vietnam War, how much it has contributed to our personal healing, and that it leaves a shining beacon for future generations of American women,” Carlson Evans said. “I humbly accept your Patriot Award – on behalf of the women veterans I sought to honor and on behalf of all those on a team – that’s you – who made this dream come true.”
The American Legion, with 2 million members who serve in communities, states and the nation through nearly 13,000 local posts, is the nation’s largest veterans service organization.