Tester Nominates Helena’s Diane Carlson Evans for the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Senator urges President Biden to honor former U.S. Army Captain Diane Carlson Evans for her Army Nurse Corps and civilian service

To honor her exemplary service to the nation, U.S. Senator Jon Tester, Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee is nominating former U.S. Army Captain Diane Carlson Evans of Helena, Montana, as a candidate for the Presidential Medal of Freedom in recognition of her lasting contributions to our country both during and after her time in uniform.

Ms. Evans served as a distinguished Army nurse for six years during the height of the Vietnam War and is the founder of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial Foundation, which is responsible for the approval and establishment of the only memorial dedicated to honoring military women on the National Mall.

“It’s my honor to nominate Diane Carlson Evans for the Presidential Medal of Freedom to rightfully recognize her lasting contributions to our country and the women veteran community,” said Tester. “Ms. Evans put her life on the line serving this country, saving countless lives of her fellow servicemembers. And after that service, she dedicated her civilian life to serving and honoring her fellow women veterans. She represents the very best of Montana and our country, and this would be a well-deserved honor for a deserving veteran.”

Tester wrote a letter to President Biden urging him to honor Ms. Evans’ work with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In his letter, he emphasized her outstanding service to our nation in uniform and as a civilian, and highlighted the lasting impact of her work to ensure women Vietnam veterans were represented and recognized for their sacrifices.

During her time in uniform, Ms. Evans served as one of the 10,000 U.S. military women volunteers who served in country in the Vietnam War. After leaving uniform, her struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder combined with a hostile environment for Vietnam veterans inspired her to found the Vietnam Women’s Memorial Project in 1984 with the aim of securing a Vietnam women veterans a place of honor and respect in Washington, D.C.

Ms. Carlson spent 10 years pushing Congress, the Commission of Fine Arts, and the public on the importance of this effort in order to secure the memorial, a site on the mall, and private funds to build the sculpture. As a direct result of her efforts, the Vietnam Women’s Memorial was dedicated on November 11, 1993. This memorial illustrates the contributions of women and nurses in the Vietnam War and created an essential space for healing and reflection, not just for those who served in those roles but also those who survived because of them.

Advocates across Montana have supported Tester’s effort to nominate Ms. Carlson for the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

“After my husband Ron and I watched Diane Carlson Evans deliver the keynote address at the 30th anniversary celebration of the Vietnam Women’s memorial, he said to me ‘Diane deserves The Presidential Medal of Freedom.’ I agreed,” said Donna Greenwood of Helena, MSN, RN. “Thus a grassroots hometown campaign was born to honor this amazing American leader, and we’re glad Senator Tester is leading the charge in DC to nominate Diane. No one is more deserving of this award. We are proud to call her our friend and our hero.”  

“Diane and I have been friends for years and she’s always been one of my heroes for her service in Vietnam. She worked so hard and was key in get the Vietnam Women’s Memorial on the National Mall – it would not have happened without her,” said Major General Gene Prendergast (Ret.), former Montana National Guard Adjutant General. “She has since dedicated her life to advocacy and service for veterans and military servicemembers in Montana and across the nation. I am grateful for Senator Tester’s support on many of those projects I worked on with Diane, and now in this effort to recognize Diane for all she has done.”

“I proudly commend Diane Evans for her unwavering dedication to honoring American military women, women who served during the Vietnam War,” said Helena Mayor Wilmot Collins. “Her founding of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial project and advocacy for its establishment showcase her profound commitment to recognizing the sacrifices of the brave women who have honorably served this nation, including herself. Diane’s persistence, leadership, underscore her deservingness of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. I am also grateful to Senator Tester for his commitment to veterans and his nomination of Diane Evans.”

“The Department of Montana American Legion wholeheartedly supports the efforts to award Diane Carlson Evans with the Presidential Medal of Freedom,” said Lowell Long, Commander of the Department of Montana American Legion. “Her service extended beyond her time as an Army Nurse during the Vietnam War to ensuring her 10,000 fellow women Vietnam veterans received recognition for their service. She is an American hero who is truly worthy of the honor of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and The American Legion cannot imagine a more worthy recipient.”


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