Dorothy Managan: Healing Bodies and Souls After World War II

Apr 12, 2016

93-year-old Dorothy Managan is among the patients who participated in the "My Life, My Story" project at the Charles George VA Medical Center in Asheville, N.C.  She talked to the VA interviewer about her experiences as a nurse during and after World War II.  She repeated some of those stories for WUNC reporter Jay Price.

Dorothy Managan (center) takes part in a 1945 training exercise at Fort Lewis in Tacoma, Wa.

Dorothy Managan remembers working as an Army nurse at Fort Lewis, Washington just after World War II, when many of her patients were former Prisoners of War suffering from psychological trauma, malnourishment, and a variety of physical problems. She says nurses worked long hours both caring for their medical needs and listening to their concerns.

Dorothy Managan still keeps a collection of notes from patients she cared for at Fort Lewis after World War II.
Credit Jay Price / WUNC

Managan reads one of the many notes she received from her patients after World War II. The men left notes of gratitude on prescription pads or other scraps of paper. Some are written with crayons because that was all they had.  Managan still has the notes at her retirement center apartment in Hendersonville, N.C.

Dorothy Managan, 93, says medical care is less personal today than it was when she worked as an Army and civilian nurse.
Credit Jay Price / WUNC

Following her military service, Managan worked as a civilian nurse in DuPage County, Ill. Now 93 years old, Managan receives medical care through the VA Medical Center in Asheville, N.C. She says she's been very happy with her care there, but says doctors and nurses are less able to give patients personal attention in today's health care system.

Hear Jay Price's full report on the VA's "My Life, My Story" project.