After the Vietnam War, soldiers suffered from posttraumatic stress disorder in countless numbers. The trauma they saw, endured, and witnessed forever changed and scared their lives. Men, like Tim O'Brien the author of the novel The Things They Carried, suffered from posttraumatic stress disorder and it took them years to regain their lives after their return home. In the excerpt from his novel, O'Brien shows the reader how the men endured this mind-altering experience in the jungles of Vietnam through the details of all the items the men carry.
Men in the Vietnam War did not know why they were there fighting in Vietnam and what their purpose was there. The United States justified their involvement in the war by asserting that they were combating communism and preventing communistic North Vietnam from taking over the more democratic South Vietnam. This affected the soldiers because they did not know why they were there killing the innocent villagers and civilians. They destroyed land and crops to combat the Viet Cong and the effects of Agent Orange, the toxin used to destroy the vegetation, are still prevalent today. A second reason the United States (U.S.) justified their implication in the Vietnam War was to prevent the spread of communism across Asia. The U.S. came up with the Domino Theory and said that if Vietnam became a communist country then so would the countries around it and so on and so forth (Herring). This war on communism did not bring any solutions because even today Vietnam is still a communist country; therefore, the soldiers do not feel they had fought for a real cause. No one received anything that was satisfactory to him or her from the war. The men ended up going home scared for life at the violence and death they had seen in the Vietnam jungle. This is why a percentage of them developed Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is "an anxiety disorder, characterized by distressing memories, emotional numbness, and hyper vigilance, that develops after exposure to a traumatic event" (Doyle-Portillo, Pastorino 490). Traumatic events include physical abuse, rape, military combat, death of a close friend or family member, natural disasters, or witnessing events such as terrorist attacks, a violent crime, or a horrible accident (Doyle-Portillo, Pastorino 490). All these different events lead men and women to have nightmares, flashbacks, and tormenting memories, especially the men who fought in the Vietnam War. Around "19% of Vietnam veterans developed PTSD at some point after the war" (Doyle-Portillo, Pastorino 491) from the events they witnessed out in the Vietnamese jungles during combat that it would have been highly unlikely for them not to develop PTSD.
This disorder leads the veterans to substance abuse to calm their nerves and help them feel more at ease. The substance abuse, in turn, leads the veterans to be more hostile, aggressive, and violent to those people around them, especially their...