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A Compare And Contrast Analysis Of Experiences In The Iraq And Vietnam Wars

973 words - 4 pages


Thousands were killed, and many more were wounded in the Vietnam war, a war that many are to this day still living with the consequences. The Things They Carried, written by William Timothy O'Brien. The story takes place in Vietnam, during the war, sometime in the 1960s. First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross, and his unit are in Vietnam serving for the United States. Jimmy, is in love with a college woman named Martha from back home. Martha writes Jimmy many letters about school, rarely mentioning the war. This is the story of group of soldiers in the war, and the things they carry. The men not only carry physical necessities for war, but also the emotional and psychological weight as well. The unit was set with a task of "searching and destroying elaborate tunnel complexes, in the Than Khe area of south of Chu Lai" (O'Brien 100). Nearly seconds after the soldier came out of the tunnel, s U.S. solider, Ted Lavender, was shot and killed while returning to the rest of unit from relieving himself. Jimmy Cross was in a trans-like state while the man was in the tunnel, thinking about Martha. Soldiers describe the event as "boom-down" (O'Brien 102), indicating the way Ted Lavender hit the ground. Jimmy Cross felt horrible about Ted's death thus adding another thing for him to carry, the guilt of losing one of his soldiers.

While all of the soldiers carried things, this story gives an awareness of not only the physical facet of war, but the emotional side equally.

That is to say that both post traumatic stress disorder and physical disabilities are issues that many soldiers have to deal with once they return home from war. Mental affects on veterans can vary person to person. Events like witnessing a member of your unit be killed, or having to kill someone yourself can be extremely traumatizing. Being away from home for long periods of time can cause stress on both the solider and his/her family back home. A study was done in 2003, which focused on the mental health of soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. They were asked about their experiences and stress symptoms. According to the study, "Soldiers and Marines in Iraq reported more combat stressors than Soldiers in Afghanistan" (Friedman).

Veterans of Vietnam also experienced many of the same side effects of war. Veterans suffered from "depression, substance and alcohol abuse, antisocial personality and anxiety disorders" (Price). The veterans also often reported complications with employment security and conflicts within their marriages.

Accordingly, Iraq and Vietnam veterans, found that adjusting to civilian life after serving in the war can be difficult for many. Returning home after having to live in an unfamiliar environment, and the possibility of constant combat settings may take extensive periods of time to readjust. There are certain behaviors that are essential to be able to make it...

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