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December 28, 2004

Myths Of the Anti-War Left Continue

Here we go again.

First it was The Quagmire meme:

"Iraq is another Vietnam" (this one has always killed me)

Um... well maybe it will be, casualty-wise... in about 84 years

Why doesn't anyone ever say, "It's another Kosovo?" How long have we been over there? What was Herr Clinton's exit strategy for the Balkans? I'm still waiting to hear how we're going to extricate ourselves from that little stroll in the park. Talk about failure to plan...

Now John Kerry's Winter Soldier lies are coming back to haunt our Iraq and Afghanistan vets. Mackubin Owens comments:

The Vietnam analogy has now begun to encompass the soldiers fighting the war. "A Flood Of Troubled Soldiers Is In The Offing, Experts Predict" blared the front page of The New York Times of Dec. 16. "An Army study shows that about one in six soldiers in Iraq report symptoms of major depression, serious anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder, a proportion that some experts believe could eventually climb to one in three, the rate ultimately found in Vietnam veterans," the Times reported. "Because about one million American troops have served so far in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Pentagon figures, some experts predict that the number eventually requiring mental health treatment could exceed 100,000."
War is a terrible business. Even those who do not suffer physical wounds can be traumatized by the experience. Of course, some handle the stress of combat better than others, but even the strongest can reach a breaking point.

This has been true of soldiers throughout history. Unfortunately, critics of the Vietnam War managed to portray those who fought that war as uniquely damaged by their combat experience. Now falsehoods about the Vietnam veteran are being used to discredit the current generation of soldiers.

Consider the claim in the Times article that one out of every three Vietnam veterans suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a real phenomenon, but it was not nearly as widespread among Vietnam veterans as the press has portrayed it.

PTSD is real.

And it should not be ignored, nor minimized. But neither should it be exploited, lied about, or blown out of proportion for political gain. It's a malady that can be treated, and the fact that we are surrounded, every day of our lives, by veterans of Vietnam who (last time I checked) are not brandishing lethal weaponry and going postal on the local citizenry suggests that the human spirit is far more resilient than the media would like us to believe.

The shameless lies of the anti-war left and the even more coldly calculating slanders of those like John Kerry left permanent scars on our vets, more deep and more painful than anything they suffered during wartime. Tragically, these myths are still widely believed today, perpetuated by political opportunists like Kerry, Charles Rangel, and Jesse Jackson. The truth is far different:

The record indicates that 86 percent of those who died during the war were white and 12.5 percent were black, from an age group in which blacks comprised 13.1 percent of the population. Two-thirds of those who served in Vietnam were volunteers, and volunteers accounted for 77 percent of combat deaths.

Statistics indicate that the suicide, homelessness and drug abuse rates of Vietnam veterans are no higher than for non-vets and non-theater Vietnam-era veterans. The incarceration rate is lower.

Finally, a comprehensive 1980 survey commissioned by Veterans' Administration (VA) reported that 91 percent of those who had seen combat in Vietnam were "glad they had served their country"; 80 percent disagreed with the statement that "the U.S. took advantage of me"; and nearly two out of three would go to Vietnam again, even knowing how the war would end.

For better or worse, today's soldiers seem destined to be linked in the public mind to those who fought in Vietnam. So while we need to learn from the Vietnam experience and ensure that the men who have borne the brunt of the war against terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq are afforded the best medical and psychiatric care possible, neither they nor the country are well served by predictions of a coming mental health crisis predicated on flawed studies from the Vietnam era.

Let's do it right this time: when our troops come home at last, don't let the anti-war left spread the same old lies.

It's time for the truth to come out: their service is honorable, they are not all crazed baby-killers, and this country owes them a debt of gratitude it can never repay.

Posted by Cassandra at December 28, 2004 08:57 AM

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When I did a lot of tractor trailer and MVA cases, about 20% of all plaintiffs would claim to have PTSD from the accident. Another sub-set would claim a post-concusive disorder. But like HDAD describes every normal under-12 year old, the symptoms of PCD and PTSD could describe anyone with a hangover. Since I have a tiny heart, I just assumed it was all garbage and fought all such claims. I think only one or two actually had a real problem.

Posted by: KJ at December 28, 2004 11:10 AM

Comparing Iraq to Viet Nam is ridiculous - any damn fool knows Saigon had some of the best bars in the world. If you don't believe me, ask Dan Rather. (Got it in the proper place, this time!)

Posted by: RIslander [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 28, 2004 02:23 PM

Iraq isn't like Vietnam for lots of reasons.

The most important one is we did not have any Hummers in Vietnam.

Additional differences:

Vietnam is in southeast Asia. Iraq is not even close to that area of the world.

Vietnam had jungles. Iraq has desserts.

Vietnam had people with light yellow skin. Iraqis are more of a tan.

Vietnamese enemies dressed like civilians and ignored international law when dealing with POWs. OK, they get that one.

Communists in Vietnam did not believe in religion or God. Jihadists in Iraq fight in spite of those beliefs.

VD was a greater risk in Vietnam.

The draft brought lots of 60s slackers to Vietnam. No such problem today in Iraq.

Posted by: Hummer at December 28, 2004 02:31 PM

Thanks for keeping up the truth watch. Check out Scrappleface for a serious article this time.

Posted by: Rick at December 29, 2004 02:37 AM

Aw Cassy...why'd you go and delete my post? I was going to leave you alone.

The deal's off. The troll's here.

"It's time for the truth to come out: their service is honorable, they are not all crazed baby-killers, and this country owes them a debt of gratitude it can never repay."

Your husband and the other brave, economically optionless people who chose to enlist in the US Army, Navy, Marines, etc. are brave, honorable, patriotic people.

They are also pawns, victims, dupes and patsies. The sons and daughters, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers who die in Iraq are not heroes. They are victims.

I do not feel gratitude toward your husband and the other Marines who are pointlessly risking their lives - I feel guilt, sorrow and shame.

Please stop deleting my posts if you'd like me to leave you alone.

Posted by: troll at January 3, 2005 06:53 PM

What the heck are you talking about?

The only thing I've deleted today is comment spam. If you dropped links in a post, then I deleted you.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 3, 2005 07:07 PM

I'm pretty sure I replied to this post and said the Americans who are "liberating" Iraq deserve our apologies and sympathy, not our gratitude.

Yours is not the only blog I am trolling and I have to confess, it takes a toll.

Being married to a Marine trumps my self-righteous arrogance by a long shot. If you would like me to stop posting, please let me know on-list or off.

Sorry for the false accusation.


Posted by: troll at January 3, 2005 07:23 PM

Please stop deleting my posts if you'd like me to leave you alone. - Troll

Because Cass is too nice to say it: You're not exactly in a position to be making demands. You can not come onto someone elses property and demand to be listened to.

If you want reasonable debate, that's great, all of us here enjoy it immensely. But demanding Cass accept your trolling (whether in error or not) doesn't make a great first impression.

Posted by: Masked MenaceĀ© at January 3, 2005 09:35 PM

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