By Chris Parris
The Vietnam War was a conflict that saw the United States battle against the North Vietnamese in order to stop them from making South Vietnam a communist government. From 1965 to 1973, the United States played a major part in the conflict. Most of the United States Armed Forces withdrew from the war and Vietnam would eventually become unified as a communist nation two years later. The Vietnam War has been deemed as one of the most controversial wars in modern history and the conflict’s effects still linger. Even though the United States lost the war, we managed to gain quite a few things.
Photo Source: Life & Time Pictures
Because of the Vietnam War, the draft no longer exists. During the Vietnam War, thousands of young men were drafted and shipped overseas. As the war went on the draft grew unpopular. The draft ceased to exist in 1973 when the United States Armed Forces became an all-volunteer military force. The improvement of weaponry and military tactics was another gain from the Vietnam War. By the war’s end, battle rifles were replaced with assault rifles; light machine guns and grenade launchers were incorporated into squads; the concept of having helicopters transport soldiers to and from combat zones was conceived; jungle warfare became better understood.
Prior to the Vietnam War, terms such as “war neurosis” and “gross stress reaction” were used to describe veterans who had psychological problems after returning home from combat. The psychological trauma that Vietnam veterans displayed for years after the war led to a deeper understanding of mental illness in all veterans. In 1980, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (or PTSD) became an official medical term as a result of years of studies involving Vietnam veterans and veterans from other wars. Nowadays, psychological problems that veterans face are better understood and can now get proper services and benefits.
And finally, the Vietnam War changed how wars are covered by the news media. The Vietnam War has been considered as the “first televised war.” Every night, the American Public would watch the news and see raw, uncensored footage of firefights, airstrikes, and casualties. Wars continue to be covered by the news media but the footage that is aired is not as graphic.
Yes, the United States lost the Vietnam War. Our efforts to stop Vietnam from becoming a communist country miserably failed. We suffered over 58,000 killed and thousands of veterans continue to suffer from PTSD and illnesses brought on by exposure to defoilants such as Agent Orange. However, the conflict brought innovations to weapons and military tactics, the purge of the draft, a better understanding of psychological problems that combat veterans face, and changed how the media covers wars.