For many Americans, the Vietnam War is over and long forgotten. Among those still suffering are several veterans who have felt forgotten, unappreciated, and even discriminated against. For some of them ' the trauma of their battle experiences or their physical disabilities have shattered their lives. For even more, adjustment to civilian life has not been easy. During the war, you were exposed to a lot of stress, confusion, anxiety, pain, and hatred. Then you were sent back home with no readjustment to the lifestyle in the states, no deprogramming of what you learned from the military, and no "welcome home" parades.
You are portrayed to the public as a crazed psychopathic killer with no morals or control over your aggression. You find that there's nobody you can talk to or who can understand what you've been through, not even your family. As you re-emerge into civilization, you struggle to establish a personal identity or a place in society because you lack the proper education and job skills. In addition, there are no supportive groups to help you find your way, which makes you feel even more isolated, unappreciated, and exploited for serving your country.
Children of the Vietnam War
War has always had a profound effect on those who engage in combat. The Vietnam War, however, was different in many ways. First, it was the unpopular war as viewed by most people today. Vietnam veterans were the first to fight in an American war that could not be recalled with pride. Second, it was the first to be reported in full detail by the media, historians, and scientists. And third, the Vietnam War became a metaphor for American society that connoted distrust in the government, and the sacrifice of American lives for poorly understood and deeply divided values and principles.
Upon the veterans' return to the states, many exhibited significant psychiatric symptoms. PTSD is a development of characteristic symptoms following a psychologically distressing event. The frequency of PTSD was a lot higher among those with high levels of exposure to combat compared to the noncombatants.
PTSD was not taken seriously until the 's when many Vietnam veterans were complaining of similar symptoms. These symptoms had been noticed after previous wars but there were only a couple of cases. In some cases, veterans did not experience their symptoms until a year after they returned.
Thus, it was very easy for the government to ignore the effects of PTSD because it had such a delayed reaction. This first section of the paper is a narrative of the way psychologists; physicians, historians, and scientists portrayed the effects of the Vietnam War on American soldiers according to the seven topics, which have been previously discussed. Before the war, there were many reasons why men wanted to participate. Some felt that it was their duty to fight for their country and for freedom.
The Vietnam War: 5 things you might not know - CNN
The majority of them were drafted without a prior notice, while others escaped the drafting process and remained at home. Most of the books cited in this paper gloss over the reasons for going to war simply because there is nothing to analyze. Either they got drafted or they volunteered. During the war, the main factor that affected the adjustments made by American soldiers and their attitudes was the DEROS system date of expected return from overseas. Every individual serving in Vietnam knew before leaving the U. An individual's rotation lasted twelve to thirteen months.
Thus, for the individual American soldier, the main attribute affecting combat motivation in the war was the operation of the rotation system. The soldier's primary concern was focused on reaching his personal DEROS instead of preparing and fighting in battle. Upon arrival to his unit and the first weeks thereafter, the soldier was excited to be in the war zone and may even have looked forward to engaging with the enemy. As he began to approach the end of his tour, the soldier noticeably began to give up; he became reluctant to engage in offensive combat operations.
From interviews and studies conducted on Vietnam veterans, the overall consensus is that American soldiers despised as well as feared the Vietnamese. Race was a critical factor affecting both the military and social experiences of American troops in Vietnam. Psychologists believe that there were two types of war. The first was considered the "good" war which took place from The second was the "bad" war which occurred from The earlier war was very conventional and traditional in that it involved the usual confrontation between opposing armies. The G. The later war involved the confrontation between American troops and Vietnamese guerrillas as well as civilians who sometimes shielded the troops.
The guerrilla warfare had booby traps and mines planted by an invisible enemy, or it seemed like to the Americans. At this stage of the war, Americans began to view all Vietnamese soldiers and civilians as the enemy and as racially inferior. Since the initial contact in Vietnam occurred in customary warfare activity, American's race awareness was hidden, practically dormant.
However, when the enemy went into civilian villages and countryside to fight a guerrilla war, consisting of ambushes, mines, and booby traps, this resulted in closer contact with the Vietnamese people blurring the distinction between soldier and civilian. With the transformation of the war from "good" to "bad", American troops came to intensify their racial conceptions.
In a "good" war, armies meet on a battlefield where there are set rules and boundaries. It is a very formal situation. On the other hand, in guerrilla warfare there is no formalities, rules, or boundaries; there is no way of telling who was friend or foe. This unpredictable environment posed to be dangerous to the Americans because they were not accustomed to this type of battle. So when contacts between the Americans and Vietnamese came closer and more common, the G.
At the start of the war, it was the North Vietnamese army and the Vietcong who were considered 4 4 gooks". South Vietnamese and civilians were friends to the American troops, they were not viewed as "gooks". There were many instances where woman and children would confront a group of Americans and have a grenade planted on their body ready to blow up. They didn't seem to realize that the Americans were there to help them, thus they were not trusted and were considered more racially inferior than the Vietnamese troops.
- Padre Pio: Encounters With A Spiritual Daughter From Pietrelcina;
- The Poetry of the Vietnam War | Poetry Foundation.
- Vietnam War Books: Nonfiction.
All Vietnamese were initially viewed by Americans as members of a racially inferior group. However, the nature and conditions of their contact, that is as the war shifted from good to bad, changed how they viewed the Vietnamese. Drugs and alcohol played a major role in the lives of the American soldiers during the Vietnam war. In the beginning of the war, marijuana was the main drug of choice. However, news that American soldiers were using drugs came back to the U. After marijuana was banned, many soldiers turned to heroin in order to get their "high".
Many soldiers enjoyed heroin better than marijuana because it sped up the perception of time, whereas marijuana slowed it down. Because marijuana, heroin, and alcohol were so abundant and inexpensive in Vietnam, veterans used them to ease the stress and sometimes to forget what they saw on the battlefield.
As they returned to the states, drugs were not as easy to obtain. Some of the veterans were too young to legally buy alcohol. Other veterans actually stopped using drugs and alcohol, because it was hurting their marriage or relationships with others. These were usually the men who had left a stable home and were a little older.
However, those young men who came back between the age of 19 and 23 had a much harder time adjusting to society. One of the tragic effects of the Vietnam drug situation was that some men were refused employment because they had served in Vietnam and employers considered this evidence of drug addiction. Since veterans had many problems adjusting to society, some continued to drink alcohol and do drugs not only to forget what they saw in Vietnam but to cope with the frustration and anguish of not being accepted into society.
The media had an immense effect on many individuals during the war. The public were informed about the war's progress through the media, television, and newspapers. Consequently, much of their opinions and beliefs about war and American soldiers were shaped by how the media viewed the war. Photographers were very influential in forming, changing, and molding public opinion.
Some photographers were interested in showing the suffering and anguish of the soldier, whereas others wanted to emphasize the dignity, strength, and fearlessness of the American soldier. Those at home had no experience of how the soldier lived or what he had to deal with during the war. The media built up a stereotype of the soldier's life.
These stereotypes are formed, directed, and censored for military and political reasons, which were designed to build up morale at home or show that there was progression and production of the war. When the soldier returned home, he was confused and annoyed to have seen that his family and friends did not understand what he had experienced and how he had changed. What the people at home had learned and discovered about the war, they had seen mostly through the media. Thus, whatever the media portrayed was what the public believed, but this didn't necessarily agree with what the soldier actually experienced.
Related What A Life How The Vietnam War Affected One Marine
Copyright 2019 - All Right Reserved