The Impact of the Vietnam War on the People of America The Vietnam War was one of the most tragic wars in American history. The affects it had on the American people were tremendous. Even today many Americans have the frightening, unforgettable memories of the war. The war was accounted to be over in 1973, but Americans still suffer the aftershocks of a national trauma that has left the nation bitterly divided and estranged from its ideals. The painful memories will be eased, but they will never be fully healed. Many Americans look at the Vietnam War as the most hated conflict in United States history. It was also the first war America has not won. Many Americans started to lose faith in their country.
Many refugees came to America in hopes to start a much better life here, but were disliked by many because they made it more difficult for the many unemployed citizens of America. Many families in America felt much sorrow as they learn of resent events in Vietnam, like the battle of Laos, and the loss of there loved ones. Many veterans returned from Vietnam and received a cold welcome from millions of Americans that felt a deep hatred for the war and the way the fighting ended. The only warm greetings came from family and friends of the veterans. One veteran spoke for many when he said, “I went to Vietnam thinking I was a good American who was doing my duty for my country.
I come back and ended up feeling like a criminal.” It alienated many returning veterans from their fellow citizens and made them wonder if they would ever again fit into the mainstream of their nation’s life. They also wondered if they would ever win a place for themselves in the United States. One reason for these feelings toward the veteran is that the veterans did not return at the end of the war, but throughout the course of the war after serving a tour of duty. They did not return with their units, but instead returned alone or in a small group of men. There was no way for the government or the Americans who supported the United States role in the war to welcome the returning veterans in an organized way. When the men did return in larger numbers the country was exhausted from the years of living with the anger, shame, and guilt that the conflict had triggered.
Hardly anyone seemed in the mood for a hero’s welcome. The veterans came home to a cold, silent, and angry reception. Some felt a deeper sense of alienation from their country because they know of their dismal image. The veterans’ image worsened with the joined problems they suffered after the cold welcome home. Some of the problems were that there was a drug and alcohol abuse and psychological illness. No one gave recognition to the veterans for their services and sacrifices. The national attitude changed over the years and the veterans gained increasing recognition. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was later built in honor of the Vietnam Veterans.
Today, unending streams of people visit the memorial daily that whisper words of love and respect to there lost ones. The changing public attitude seen in recent times is bringing an end to one of the saddest legacies left to everyone who served in the Vietnam War. The families of many Vietnam veterans received reports of family members that are missing in action or prisoners of war. Over three thousand names were published as either MIA (missing in action) or POW (prisoners of war). Only six hundred of those men were returned to the United States during the exchange of prisoners between the U.S. and North Vietnam. An outcry was started because of the disappearance of more than 2,500 Americans. The families and friends of the missing men demanded to know where they were or whether the Vietnamese captured them.
The American people wanted the United States government to locate and brig them back. If they were dead, then they should give those men a proper burial in the U.S. The family and friends of the men that were thought to have perished could not be free of the anguish of not knowing the fate of a loved one. The outcry was widespread, but it was also considered unique to American history. More men were lost in World War II and Korea, but there was no large public demand that they were to be found. This is so because most of the Americans supported the wars. This was not the case with the Vietnam War. Most strongly opposed the U.S. role in the fighting.
Thousands of U.S. service people were exposed to the herbicide Agent Orange. The U.S. Air Force aunched a series of unusual bombing strikes in South Vietnam, in 1962. The liquid, called Agent Orange, was a weed and plant killer. The spraying of the herbicide agent also affected countless people both American and Vietnamese. The United States destroyed their supply of the herbicide, in 1977. The years since increasing numbers of Vietnam veterans report various health problems that they suspect are results of the herbicide chemical, Agent Orange. Many seem to have a kind of cancer or liver problems, and that their children were born with birth defects and many women exposed to the chemical are not able to have children anymore.
No one can be totally sure that it is the result of the herbicide chemical, but they are sure that the agent is one of the main suspects of causing these problems to the veterans. The war was so vicious that the veterans suffered psychological and emotional damages, or invisible wounds. Also many troops in Vietnam were said to have used many different drugs. Most smoked marijuana and some used hard drugs such as heroin. One-fifth of all enlisted men serving in Vietnam during 1970 were addicted to some drug during their tour of duty. In 1988, there was a sharp decline in the problem. Studies conducted in the 1970s and 1980s were proof that the Vietnam veterans were psychologically disturbed. The veterans showed themselves to be suffering from such problems as depression, anxiety, and a disorder known as Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Many of the men who looked for help from the Veterans Administration were able to function and carry on their lives while being helped. Others required hospitalization and treatment. It was estimated that over 29,000 veterans of the Vietnam era were in state and federal penitentiaries. They were put there for varies crimes they have committed. Studies also show that there are many veterans either on probation, released from prison or were on parole, or awaiting trial. The total of veterans in trouble with the law comes to about 401,000. The crimes ranged from acts of violence to drug dealing and abuse to burglary, car theft, and armed robbery. Most of the offenses had been of a nonviolent nature. America began to bring in many Southeast Asian immigrants. Countless of the Vietnamese, Laotian, and Cambodian refugees have come to the United States and built new lives for themselves.
Many businesses began hiring Vietnamese for they have hard working spirits. Vietnamese people started their own businesses successfully. The Vietnamese families that start a business of their own first pool their earnings together from other jobs or they pool it with other families too. The exodus began when Saigon fell in 1975. Then many South Vietnamese came to the United States mostly on small freighters and all types of coastal boats. Many Americans did not like the government’s generosity toward the Vietnamese escapees. There was a fear of the new comers would overcrowd the labor market and make-work harder for the unemployed Americans. They were also afraid of the housing market becoming overwhelmed and new diseases that may have been brought into the country. The U.S. gained over 1.5 million refugees then, and many Americans were prejudice toward all the new refugees entering the United States. At this time there were over nine million unemployed workers, so the problem of the refugees arriving made the situation worse.
This is why the Vietnam War is a turning point in history. Many Americans felt pain of losing someone and many died serving in Vietnam. Every American was affected by the violent and gruesome war. Many people hated the war, and the returning veterans were treated badly. The veterans became drug abusers and they committed many crimes. Quite a few veterans received a kind of trauma from the war. The American people began feeling skeptical of the United States power. Many immigrants came to America in hopes of creating a much better life for themselves, but the American citizens at that time not in a good situation with the unemployed and the difficulty in finding good career opportunities or cheaper homes. Many veterans make up part of the homeless population in the U.S. All these aspects contribute to the fact of the intensity of how much the Vietnam war impacted on the people the United States and so it is a turning point in history.