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Lynda Van Devanter (1947-2002)
Lynda Van Devanter Buckley, an advocate for women veterans, died November 15, 2002 at her home in Herndon, Virginia, after a long illness. She was 55.
An Arlington native, she served in Vietnam in 1969 and 1970 as a surgical nurse with the 71st Evacuation Hospital in Pleiku, near the Cambodian border.
Her acclaimed memoir, "Home Before Morning," was the first widely-published book by a female veteran on the Vietnam War. It described her experience of the horrors of the war and was among the first to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), from which she suffered. She wrote that she and other nurses and doctors took to drinking, drug use and sexual liaisons to find distraction. The book, co-authored by Christopher Morgan, was inspiration for the TV drama "China Beach," which ran from 1988 to 1991.
One of her letters was included in the 1988 HBO documentary "Dear America: Letters Home From Vietnam." In it, she described a Christmas Eve of amputations and death for wounded GIs.
"This is now the seventh month of death, destruction and misery. I'm tired of going to sleep listening to outgoing and incoming rockets, mortars and artillery. I'm sick of facing, every day, a new bunch of children ripped to pieces," she wrote.
In 1979 she helped launch and became head of the Vietnam Veterans of America Women's Project. In 1987 the VVA honored her with the Excellence in the Arts Award and in 2002 she received a VVA Commendation Medal. After retiring in 1984 she continued to write articles, edit volumes of poetry, give speeches and conduct seminars.
Mrs. Buckley suffered from systemic collagen vascular disease, which she attributed to wartime exposure to chemical agents and pesticides.
Survivors include her husband, Tom Buckley, and their daughter Molly; a stepdaughter, Brigid Buckley; her mother, Helen Van Devanter; and four sisters.