The medical civic action program in Vietnam: success or failure?

Mil Med. 2001 Sep;166(9):815-9.


Medical services have long been an integral part of the military and warfare. Civilians, however, are also caught up in wars. This article discusses the care of the indigenous civilians by U.S. military medical personnel during the Vietnam War. Civilian medical care is rendered both for altruistic purposes and to satisfy the policy aims of the U.S. government. Evaluation of these two aspects of the programs does not lead to the same conclusions. Doctors doubted the value of the programs, whereas the command structure was enthusiastic. For a program to be of sustained value to the people, it must persist over time and train those who will remain after U.S. forces are withdrawn. This did not occur in Vietnam. Furthermore, I doubt that medical care rendered by U.S. troops in uniform can serve to build up loyalty to another organization, such as the host government.

MeSH terms

  • Altruism*
  • Humans
  • Military Medicine* / methods
  • Politics*
  • Program Evaluation
  • United States
  • Vietnam