This study describes hardships faced in Vietnam and personal strategies used to deal with these hardships as defined by 24 female military nurses who served during the war. Purposive sampling was used, and data were generated using four core questions and in-depth interviews. The research methodology was phenomenology, incorporating data analysis procedures of Colaizzi, Lincoln and Guba, and Van Manen. Eight hardship and nine personal strategy themes were identified. This study found that caring for young, severely injured, and disfigured soldiers was a significant hardship and that nurses struggled with the moral dilemmas inherent in mass casualty situations, triage policies, and the practice of returning recovered soldiers to combat. Most nurses relied on personally proven and familiar strategies to reduce or buffer the effects of emotional hardships, whereas some discovered and used new strategies.
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