2017 Winners



Emily Thoreson

The Vietnam War was a very difficult one for the Americans who risked their lives to serve their country and help protect the values it stands for. One of the reasons why the war was so difficult is because the military was fighting in the jungles of Southern Vietnam against an army that used guerilla warfare tactics. 

 To help the war effort the US government decided to use various herbicides to defoliate the jungles of Vietnam in order to make the enemy easier to spot, and to destroy crops the enemy could use for food. The most heavily used herbicide in Vietnam was Agent Orange, and an estimated 20 million gallons were sprayed from 1962 to 1971. 

 But, it was later found out that Agent Orange caused severe health effects in humans. 2.6 million Americans were exposed to, and possibly harmed by Agent Orange. I am fortunate enough to have two grandfathers who served our country during the Vietnam War, and I am even more fortunate that neither of them ever set foot in Vietnam, so they were never exposed to Agent Orange or developed any diseases as a result. 

 When I asked my grandfather, who served in the Navy on the USS Monrovia, if the government made the right decision in using Agent Orange, he said: “Vietnam was a very difficult war for us. The Viet Cong were very tricky fighters and we were fighting them in the middle of the jungle. I do think Agent Orange helped reduce American casualties and that the government made the right decision in using it. But, I only wish they could have found a better chemical that didn’t cause so many problems in the servicemen.” 

 The government and the chemical companies that produced Agent Orange were slow to accept responsibility for its side effects. In 1984 several large chemical companies who produced the herbicides used in Vietnam reached a settlement in a lawsuit filed on behalf of 2.4 million

veterans for $180 million dollars. In 1991 President George Bush signed the Agent Orange Act, which  stated that some diseases associated with the herbicides had to be treated by the VA. 

 In addition to the devastating effects on American soldiers, Agent Orange is also believed to have caused cancer and other illnesses in Vietnamese citizens who were exposed to the herbicide during the war, as well as birth defects in over half a million Vietnamese children. Agent Orange has also destroyed vast areas of the Vietnamese countryside that will take another century to heal. 

The use of Agent Orange was a key component of our war effort in Vietnam, and it helped prevent the death of many of our soldiers by making the enemy easier to spot. But now its consequences have to be dealt with. The VA should treat every veteran that served in Vietnam, no matter what disease they may have And the government should begin a more comprehensive effort to help heal the environment in Vietnam that Agent Orange destroyed. 


Dear Scholarship Committee, 

First I would like to say thank you for awarding this scholarship to me. It’s truly an honor to have received this award. 

Next year I am going to be attending the College of Saint Scholastica, where I plan to major in Communications. With my degree in Communications, I want to attain a job in the journalism field, preferably as a reporter. 

I have always appreciated the sacrifices those who serve our country make, but the research and interviews I conducted for my essay made me appreciate those who serve our country even more. 


Emily Thoreson


Kennedy Grimstad

Medical Advances in the Vietnam War that Saved my Grandfather’s Life

    I wouldn’t tell my cousins or sister, but I am my Grandpa Bill’s favorite grandchild. He and I are a lot alike and I can’t imagine my life without him in the stands at my sporting events, going on hunting and fishing trips together, or playing yard games at the lake. None of this would have been possible had it not been for the medical care he received while serving his country during the Vietnam War. During the one year, eleven months and twenty-one days he served, he was injured multiple times. The advances in medical care during the Vietnam War that saved his life continue to save lives today. Some of these medical advances include the use of helicopters evacuations, long range radios, and the Emergency Medical System.

    One of the biggest medical advancement from the Vietnam War was the use of helicopters as air ambulances. The use of these helicopters reduced the amount of time that it took for wounded soldiers to receive treatment. My grandpa had experience with these helicopters. After being wounded he was evacuated on one of these helicopters and it was shot down and had to be carried off by a different helicopter to safety. Today most major hospitals use helicopters as a means to get patients to medical care quickly.

    Another important medical innovation from the Vietnam War, was the use of long range radios. They reached distances up to five miles and reduced the response time to reach wounded soldiers. These radios also allowed people to relay information to the medical staff about the injured soldier while on their way to the rescue. The term “Dust Off” became the code that was used to signal an air evacuation and is still used today.

    Lastly, another important advancement during the Vietnam War was the use of the Emergency Medical System (EMS). The EMS refers to medical professionals that give treatment to soldiers before and during their transportation to the hospital. These medical professionals were able to perform vital care in-route when seconds count. This innovation saved numerous lives allowing injured soldiers to receive treatment almost immediately, including CPR and preventing death from blood loss, both of which my grandfather received by EMS. The use of the universal donor blood, type O negative, was also introduced during the Vietnam War and is still used for trauma victims today.

    I am planning on majoring in Biomedical Engineering. As a Biomedical Engineer it would be my job to help improve the lives of others by solving medical problems. I would like to use my skills to work with wounded veterans and help improve their lives after injury or even work on preventing soldiers from injury in the first place by designing more protective equipment. I hope to one day invent something that will help save somebody else’s life like the medical advancements during the Vietnam War saved my grandfather's.


Dear Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation,

I want to thank you for awarding me with the Northland Vietnam Veterans Frank Budd, M.D. Foundation Scholarship. This money will help me to achieve my goals of pursuing a degree in biomedical engineering at the University of Iowa. I also would like to thank you for the ceremony, it was a very special night for my family and I. This scholarship process gave me the opportunity to talk further with my grandfather about his experiences in Vietnam and learn more about what he went through as an injured soldier.


Kennedy Grimstad