The Vietnam Vascular Registry at 50 years: An historical perspective and continuing legacy

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The last number of military-dedicated supplements published in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery (JTACS) has provided a historical foreword, emphasizing achievements by previous military surgeons and military researchers.1–3 The 2014 Historical Forward, entitled Vietnam (1972) to Afghanistan (2014): The state of military trauma care and research, past to present, made general comparisons between the state of military trauma care, trauma systems, and trauma research at the conclusion of the Vietnam War and that at the drawdown of the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.2 This article will expand on that 2014 perspective with an emphasis on the Vietnam Vascular Registry, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2016 (Figure 1). One of the original mandates for the registry came 50 years ago from a Marine Corps Colonel serving in the three-canopy jungle of the Republic of South Vietnam who said to the lead author of this article (N.M.R.), “Doc, try to make something good out of this mess.” What ensued was an enduring collection of vascular injury, injury management, and outcomes information from American service members wounded in Vietnam, an effort that laid the foundation for many of today’s modern military and civilian trauma registries.
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