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Characteristics of Vietnam Veterans

The individual rotation meant that most soldiers were sent to Vietnam from the outset as isolated individuals into units without cohesive unity.  This is in distinct contrast to WWII, Korea, Desert Storm, the Gulf War and Iraq where entire units trained and fought together as one unit.  Low morale meant that there was little concentrated desire to win the war.

This isolation trauma continued as returning Vietnam veterans came home alone, isolated and alienated from the dramatically changing American scene, which was dominated by social and political turmoil.  This unrest was typical throughout the Vietnam era of the 1960s and early 1970s.  The Vietnam veteran experienced a devastating pattern of rejection continually reinforced by the public media system.

The Vietnam veteran returned to an America that was economically unstable, suffering from high inflation and unemployment.  Finding a way to fit back into society was an uphill battle with many insurmountable obstacles for many veterans.

The Vietnam veteran was in the jungles, fighting a guerilla war with unbearable heat, humidity, malaria, leaches, jungle rot, etc.

The average combat/year was 240 days due to the “innovative” helicopter war.  This meant that combat was up 83% compared to wars without the helicopter, thus the exposure to extremely intense events in frequent time frames created an internal conflict, which became almost impossible to talk about in any logical manner.

Most soldiers were immediately discharged after serving a year without any thought of debriefing, support or counseling of any kind.

Most soldiers experienced a home coming overwhelmed with protesters and were shunned, rejected for participating in the war, often being called “baby killers”. Therefore, the Vietnam veteran learned that it was best not to verbally vent the intense internal feelings.
This was America’s longest war, ten years, so the veteran returned from a war still in progress without an official “homecoming” or acknowledgment of a job well done.
The un-accepting public labeled the veteran as drug-crazed/violent/mentally disturbed individuals, which is an image continually reinforced by “Hollywood”.

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Soldier in Vietnam, 1966 (U.S./Wikimedia)