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American Veteran: 'So different than what we thought it would be'

1st Lieutenant Edie Meeks, veteran of the U.S. Army.
Insignia Films
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1st Lieutenant Edie Meeks, veteran of the U.S. Army.

To commemorate Veterans Day, the American Homefront Project collaborated with the PBS documentary series American Veteran and the companion podcast, American Veteran: Unforgettable Stories, to profile men and women who have served in the U.S military.

Edie Meeks joined the Army Nurses Corps in 1968, at the height of the Vietnam War. Her goal was to make sure service members, like her brother serving in the Marines, received the best possible medical care while overseas. As a nurse, she felt she needed to step up and do her part.

“You got on the plane, and you could feel the feeling of, ‘we’re going to help,’” Meeks said. “And then when we got over there it was so different than what we thought it would be.”

At the 3rd Field Hospital in Saigon, Meeks treated a seemingly endless parade of injured young men. Many were grievously wounded. Some did not survive. Over the course of her year-long deployment, she recalled her optimism turned to rage.

Edie Meeks was recorded by Insignia Films for GBH. 

This story was produced by the American Homefront Project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans. 

Funding for the American Homefront Project comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Funding for American Veteran was provided by the Wexner Family Charitable Fund, Battelle, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Analog Devices.

Elizabeth Friend grew up in North Carolina listening to public radio in the backseat of the family station wagon. She has been reporting and producing at WUNC since 2016, covering everything from Army history to armadillos. She's also the co-founder of the beloved summer event series Audio Under The Stars. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the outside world with her family, dabbling in esoteric crafts, and cheese.