Vietnam War Effects
The Vietnam War was a very costly war. It not only affected those in battles, but it also left behind long term effects on
people everywhere in the world. It was an extremely costly war with over 58,000 Americans dead and over 150,000 wounded in
battle. Many Americans were affected by the war for so many had died and many more were wounded. North Vietnam was victorious
over South Vietnam and allied forces. The Fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975 marked the end of a very bloody war.
The Vietnam War had many long lasting effects on the veterans who fought for America from the 1950s to the 1970s. Some veterans
from Vietnam even formed groups against the war. These veterans formed an organization known as Vietnam Veterans Against
the War. The organization had a purpose, “It was organized to voice the growing opposition among returning servicemen
and women to the still-raging war in Indochina, and grew rapidly to a membership of over 30,000 throughout the United States
as well as active duty GIs stationed in Vietnam. Through ongoing actions and grassroots organization, VVAW exposed the ugly
truth about US involvement in Southeast Asia and our first-hand experiences helped many other Americans to see the unjust
nature of that war.” (http://www.vvaw.org/about/). These organizations formed due to the large number of cases of post-traumatic
stress disorder found among veterans of Vietnam. A chemical used by the United States, Agent Orange, also had adverse effects
on veterans. One government release states, “Approximately 20 million gallons of herbicides were used in Vietnam between
1962 and 1971 to remove unwanted plant life and leaves which otherwise provided cover for enemy forces during the Vietnam
Conflict. Shortly following their military service in Vietnam, some veterans reported a variety of health problems and concerns
which some of them attributed to exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides.” (http://www1.va.gov/agentorange/).
Many veterans came home to America only to find out that they will live the remainder of their life with the fear of developing
a disease. The Vietnam War affected these veterans in a very negative way.
Many veterans also suffered from negative stereotypes of Vietnam veterans following the Vietnam War. It is stated, “There
are persistent stereotypes about Vietnam veterans as psychologically devastated, bitter, homeless, drug-addicted people who
had a hard time readjusting to society, primarily due to the uniquely divisive nature of the Vietnam War in the context of
U.S. History.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam_Veteran). The veterans of Vietnam defended our country just as
the veterans of all previous wars, except for the Confederates in the American Civil War, and they deserved the same treatment
as any other yet they did not receive that treatment. It has only been in more recent years that Vietnam veterans have begun
to receive the recognition that they deserve, even though some people lie to gain this attention as well. In 1982, the Vietnam
Veterans Memorial was dedicated to the veterans of Vietnam. “The Vietnam Veterans Memorial serves as a testament to
the sacrifice of American military personnel during one of this nation's least popular wars. The memorial consists of three
distinct sections. "the wall", the three service men statue and flagpole and the women in service to the vietnam war statue.
The purpose of this memorial is to separate the issue of the sacrifices of the veterans from the U.S. policy in the war, thereby
creating a venue for reconciliation.” (http://www.nps.gov/vive/). Seven years might not seem like long time following
the war, but it was a long time in which the 58,000 soldiers were not recognized for their valiant deeds defending the rights
of the South Vietnamese in Vietnam.
Due to the Vietnam War an issue with narcotics also developed. One form of narcotics causing a large amount of trouble was
heroin. It is said that,
“The indisputable fact was that by late 1970 heroin use was emerging as a major health issue among U.S. servicemen,
with some medics reporting that as many as 10% of GIs in some units were regular heroin users by the end of 1970. The penetration
of cheap drugs into U.S. military in Vietnam also led to a rapid increase in drug importation into Australia, thanks in part
to the thriving Rest and Recreation circuit, with some U.S. personnel sent to Sydney on R&R leave being used as drug "mules".
Demand among ex U.S. personnel who returned to the states created increased heroin demand in the U.S.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam_war)
This of course was not a good thing and introduced a new drug into America which has now caused even more problems due to
the sharing of syringes.
The Vietnam War also had dramatic effects on the people living in Vietnam, South Vietnam in particular. With North Vietnam
the victor, South Vietnam was forced to submit to the communist rule of the North.
“The new government promptly sent people connected to the South Vietnam regime to concentration camps for "reeducation",
often for years at a time. Others were sent to so-called "new economic zones" to develop the undeveloped land. Furthermore,
the victorious Communist government implemented land reforms in the south similar to those implemented in North Vietnam earlier.
Persecution and poverty prompted an additional two million people to flee Vietnam as boat people over the 20 years following
In this way not only did the people of Vietnam suffer the most casualties, but if they lived in South Vietnam following the
war they suffered for they had favored freedom over oppression.
The use of chemical weapons in Vietnam also affected the local population a great deal. One very harmful chemical was Agent
Orange, “Today more than one million people suffer from serious diseases, including different types of cancer and disabilities,
as a result of the spreading of defoliants and herbicides, and in particular AGENT ORANGE, which contained large amounts of
DIOXIN. 200 000 children are now the third generation of victims suffering from malformations and severe defects of the immune
and the nervous system.” (http://www.vietnam-dioxine.org/rendezvous_en.php). Even thirty years after the end of the
war, children in Vietnam are still affected by the chemical operations carried out by the United States in order to destroy
vegetation giving cover to the North Vietnamese Army.
The Vietnam War is still today well known mainly due to the fact that it has affected so very many people throughout the
years. Had it not been for the controversy surrounding the war it would probably not be as well remembered as it is now.
It could have ended up like the Korean War, forgotten due to larger wars taking place soon after.
“VVAW:Where We Came From, Who We Are.” Online. Internet. 19 June 2006. Available http://www.vvaw.org/about/.
“Agent Orange.” Online. Internet. 19 June 2006. Available http://www1.va.gov/agentorange/.
“Vietnam Veteran.” Wikipedia. Online Internet. 19 June 2006. Available http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam_Veteran.
“Vietnam Veterans Memorial.” Online. Internet. 19 June 2006. Available http://www.nps.gov/vive/.
“Vietnam War.” Wikipedia. Online. Internet. 19 June 2006. Available http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam_war.
“Timeline.” Online. Internet. 19 June 2006. Available http://www.vietnam-dioxine.org/rendezvous_en.php.