|Health Effects Experienced by Veterans of Vietnam War - Photo by MSgt Mark Moore|
Many of these veterans felt immediate health effects due to serving. According to the Department of Defense's Military Advisors Reflect on Vietnam War Experiences, retired Marine Corps General Anthony Zini said, "By the time my advisory tour was coming near to its end....I had contracted malaria, mononucleosis, dysentery and hepatitis..."
Veterans of the Vietnam Conflict may experience long-term health problems related to serving. These health issues may take years to develop. Examples include:
- respiratory cancers
- porphyria cutanea tarda
- multiple myeloma
- Hodgkin's disease
- non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
- soft tissue sarcoma
- prostate cancer
- peripheral neuropathy
- type 2 diabetes
- ischemic heart disease
- hearing deficits
|Visiting The Wall - Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Barbara L. Bailey|
Many veterans of the Vietnam War remain silent about having served. Their families, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances may have no idea they are veterans. For some veterans, that life chapter is closed, never to be opened again. However, many who remained silent for decades are now starting to share their stories – an amazing gift for current and future generations.
Some veterans of the Vietnam War found life to be too painful. They found that the fight to survive in Vietnam left a hole within their souls, unable to be filled with the love of others, substances, activity, or inactivity. Those who love them mourn the loss of someone they desperately wanted to help with resources that seemed blatantly inadequate.
|Rolling Thunder Patriotism - Photo by Lance Cpl. Jonathan G. Wright|
According to some sources, 91% of American veterans who served in Vietnam say they were glad to serve, and 74% say they would do it again, even with knowledge of the outcome. They are often amazingly innovative thinkers who can find a solution to nearly any problem thrown their way. You'll find many of these veterans continuing to serve in very quite and unassuming ways, such as helping to provide military rites at a funeral or manning a table to increase awareness and handing out poppies near an area business as Veterans Day or Memorial Day approaches. They may be the go-to person whenever a car breaks down or a home repair is needed.
Despite health challenges, veterans who served in Vietnam are a tough group. They are survivors. They keep on keeping on and live each day. They deal with the setbacks and figure out what will work today. I, for one, wish to thank these veterans for their service and veterans and their families for their sacrifice. Feel free to add your own thanks in the comment section at the bottom of this article.
|Surviving American Veterans of Vietnam War - Photo by Artaxerxes|
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- History.com article last updated on June 2, 2008 Statistics About the Vietnam War accessed on 11/10/13.
- U.S. Department of Defense August 29, 2012 article Military Advisors Reflect on Vietnam War Experiences accessed on 11/10/13.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs article last updated on September 10, 2013 Veterans' Diseases Associated with Agent Orange accessed on 11/10/13.