Saturday, September 17, 2011

Soldiers of Misfortune

From the archives the March 1978 Atlantic
A report on the veterans of Vietnam—and on the often disgraceful treatment they have received from their countrymen
"I'm playing cards in a house trailer with this guy who didn't go to Nam, and then I hear explosions far off and I get up and start walking toward the explosions. They're calling me back. 'It's time to come back now.'" —The dream of an ex-rifleman of the 101st Airborne Division

A carpeted hallway leads to the office of the administrator at Veterans Administration headquarters in Washington. On the way, one passes a bathroom equipped with steel handrails. Doorways are wide, large enough for a small vehicle to go through, and in the spacious office itself furniture is arranged so that there are broad avenues between. An odd bronzed object sits in one corner. It looks as if it might have been some medieval instrument of torture, and I felt embarrassed to stare at it. At its base is a squarish foot. A short, hollow, conical leg, about the size and shape of an inverted wastebasket, rises from it. A few inches above the top there is a metal hoop, wired to the device like a halo. This is one of the prosthetic training legs-he calls them "little stubbies"-in which Max Cleland clumped around for too many months after he got back from Vietnam. Someone at the VA hospital in Washington found the thing and had it bronzed after Cleland became famous. Cleland, who is the new chief of the VA, says he thinks of the leg as a reminder of his professional duty to veterans. "Kind of a grim reminder," he said.

Everyone has heard the story of the lucky person who got to the airport a few minutes late and missed a plane that later crashed. Cleland is the person who made it to the airport just in time for disaster. He didn't have to go to Vietnam in the first place; he was a general's aide back in the United States. But he volunteered. A signal officer in the First Air Cavalry Division, he got safely through most of his tour. He was almost out of there the day he flew by helicopter to a hilltop near Khe Sanh. He disembarked, and when the helicopter lifted off, Cleland looked back and saw a hand grenade lying on the ground, in the spot where the chopper had been. It is not known how the grenade came to be there or who had pulled the pin and why, but Cleland assumed it wasn't live. He walked over to it.


The United States sent 2,796,000 soldiers to Vietnam: 57,002 died, and 300,000 were wounded-about 150,000 seriously enough to be hospitalized. About 75,000 were left severely handicapped, and some 25,000 came home totally disabled. But information on what happened to the wounded and to the rest of the survivors is sketchy. To some extent, Vietnam veterans have been, as one observer puts it, "tarred with the brush of My Lai." Several TV police shows have cast the Vietnam veteran in the role of an angry, confused young man who has brought the war home in duffel bag full of heroin and automatic weapons. There is evidence that some employers are afraid of men who do not hide the fact that they served in Vietnam, and I have spoken to several professional representatives of Vietnam veterans who seem to want to think that their constituents are indeed dangerous men. Again and again, I heard people say that the three of four well-publicized instances of soldiers going berserk when they got home were merely "harbingers," "the tip of an iceberg."

Against these stereotypes and melodramatic speculations stand a body of statistics and several studies. The statistics are inadequate, partly because they do not generally distinguish between the soldiers who went to Vietnam and the roughly 5 million others who served elsewhere during the "Vietnam era." As for the studies, some seem marred by the preconceptions of the researchers, none seems truly comprehensive, and several are unfinished. But the studies and the VA's statistics do seem to show that, while it was a rough journey for many, and though many may carry scars, the great majority of Vietnam veterans have made satisfactory readjustments to civilian life. At the same time, a significant number - one in five, according to the VA - appear to be having problems: with employment, drugs, their own psyches, their marriages, the law. read more>>>

Since then we've had the same 'Soldiers of Misfortune' of the many little invasions of choice as well as the major, Gulf War I to today's of two Conflicts, ignored or receiving some of the same treatment and misconceptions by those, the greater masses, who cheer their sending over and over and don't serve nor demand they sacrifice in any way!

No Revenues = Still No Sacrifice = That's Called 'Support' For The Troops = DeJa-Vu all over again, Shared Sacrifice My A**!!
As those war profiteers who ordered are still profiteering and not only on books, their wealthy class does as well, directly or indirectly, and none are taxed to boot!
No Sacrifice now a decade plus long added to the previous decades!!

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