The Public’s Image of PTSD and the Vietnam Veteran
Are we all crazy? Does PTSD ever go away?
How many Hollywood movies have painted a positive picture of Vietnam Veterans compared to movies that show Vietnam veterans as angry, violent, dangerous drug users and/or alcholics (mostly brought on by PTSD)?
Three Vietnam Veterans that I know of have run for President of the United States. All three lost.
Al Gore served in Vietnam as a reporter/journalist for five months. He Gore was stationed with the 20th Engineer Brigade in Bien Hoa and was a journalist with The Castle Courier. He received an honorable discharge from the Army in May 1971.
Of his time in the Army, Gore later stated, “I don’t pretend that my own military experience matches in any way what others here have been through […] I didn’t do the most, or run the gravest danger. But I was proud to wear my country’s uniform. And my own experiences gave me strong beliefs about America’s obligation to keep our national defenses strong.” He also later stated that his experience in Vietnam “didn’t change my conclusions about the war being a terrible mistake, but it struck me that opponents to the war, including myself, really did not take into account the fact that there were an awful lot of South Vietnamese who desperately wanted to hang on to what they called freedom. Coming face to face with those sentiments expressed by people who did the laundry and ran the restaurants and worked in the fields was something I was naively unprepared for.”
John Kerry reported for duty at Coastal Squadron 1 in Cam Ranh Bay in South Vietnam on November 17, 1968. In his role as an officer in charge of Swift boats, Kerry led five-man crews on a number of patrols into enemy-controlled areas. His first command was Swift boat PCF-44, from December 6, 1968 to January 21, 1969, when the crew was disbanded. They were based at Coastal Division 13 at Cat Lo from December 13, 1968 to January 6, 1969. Otherwise, they were stationed at Coastal Division 11 at An Thoi. On January 30, 1969, Kerry took charge of PCF-94 and its crew, which he led until he departed An Thoi on March 26, 1969, and subsequently the crew was disbanded.
On January 22, 1969, Kerry and several other officers had a meeting in Saigon with Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, the commander of U.S. Naval forces in Vietnam, and U.S. Army General Creighton Abrams, the overall commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam. Kerry and the other officers reported that the “free-fire zone” policy was alienating the Vietnamese and that the Swift boats’ actions were not accomplishing their ostensible goal of interdicting Viet Cong supply lines.
John McCain requested a combat assignment, and was assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal flying A-4 Skyhawks. His combat duty began when he was 30 years old, in mid-1967, during the Vietnam War. McCain and his fellow pilots became frustrated by micromanagement from Washington, and he would later write that “In all candor, we thought our civilian commanders were complete idiots who didn’t have the least notion of what it took to win the war.”
John McCain became a prisnor of war on October 26, 1967.
He was flying his 23rd bombing mission over North Vietnam when his aircraft was shot down by a missile over Hanoi. McCain fractured both arms and a leg ejecting from the aircraft. Although McCain was badly wounded, his captors refused to treat his injuries, beating and interrogating him to get information; he was given medical care only when the North Vietnamese discovered that his father was a top admiral.
What is your opinion about the public image of Vietnam Veterans? Do you think these three men lost the White House because they served in Vietnam?
Discover A Prisoner of War for Life
Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran, journalist and award winning author.
His second novel is the award winning love story and suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he didn’t do while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.
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