As a Vietnam Vet I learned a lesson about not being on the winning side…
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I hated the war. My number was in the last draft lottery (because my birthday is the same as William Jefferson Clinton’s although in a different year I’ve never shaken the sense that he dodged, where I stood up. I was lucky to have scored high enough on the Army’s induction tests to be told I had an IQ above the 125 point minimum for the Army Security Agency (an intelligence service that did both strategic and tactical “electronic spying”.
My point in that isn’t that it gives me a credibility to write re Afghanistan, but rather that I fought my war with a quarter inch wrench and quarter inch wide flat bladed screw driver. Between basic and my last assignment in Virginia, I never pulled a rifle trigger, even in practice. And I do recognize that may make my perspective have less credibility in some people’s minds.
My point here is that after coming home I saw and experienced various snubs of older vets as grossly unfair. I had done my duty, as it was, exactly where the US Army Security Agency put me, doing exactly what that command wanted me to do.
As a matter of self-protection to my mental health, I blew off all the snarky commentaries about how my generation (which had been led by THEIR and my father’s generations) had lost the war.
I did my duty as I was asked. No one promised me I’d be on the winning side, and it didn’t turn out that way. Thousands of us over there as we closed in on the cease-fire realized the war would go down as lost. And most of us, rightly, didn’t think it was our fault.
So from a participant in the US’s most despised war of the 20th century, I say please don’t look on this as losing. You served THE POLICY OF THE UNITED STATES. That policy changed, not your loyalty, not your sacrifice, and certainly not your integrity.
The judgement of the unknowing and uncaring really only matters with respect to caring those who didn’t come back “whole”. Thinking you failed, if you do, is a wound. A wound you must allow to heal.
So I welcome you to service in the long struggle that follows your military struggle. This is a struggle that from time to time will likely make you sad, again.
Our on-going mission is to ensure that those who now need are not forgotten, that care is extended in perpetuity to those, possibly even their descendants, who were harmed by that service. Please don’t be discouraged by the millions of selfish people who want to forget your service and sacrifice and cut all aid to nothing.
Ending the pandemic needs a shot in the arm.
August 30, 2021 at 10:01 PM #443051HassleCatParticipant
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Militarily, we beat the snot out of the NVA. The problem was, they didn’t care. They knew we could not secure a political victory through military force. The Afghans knew the same thing. So did many Americans who warned of another Vietnam-style mistake.
August 30, 2021 at 11:27 PM #443077
August 31, 2021 at 12:34 AM #443094MistaPParticipant
- Total Posts: 3,075
his NVA counterpart said “we know what we’re fighting for, you don’t”
I think it sorta helped that they initially thought we were going to be on their side liberating Indochina–the proto-CIA had literally saved Ho’s life for fighting the IJA and Vichy French and Eisenhower told Auriol to fuck right off: naturally like the rest of the Nonaligned leaders down to Castro and Ortega he wasn’t just blindsided but shocked at the assassins and guerrillas sent their way
August 31, 2021 at 12:04 AM #443087MindwalkerParticipant
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In Afghanistan, the goal was initially to get Bin Laden, but that changed rather quickly didn’t it? I remember the interview with GWB where he commented that he didn’t have any idea where bin Laden was and didn’t really care. So then, what was the goal in Afghanistan? It’s becoming clear now that it was just a good way to launder money to the defense contractors and partially back to the campaign coffers of congress.
So it’s all a self-perpetuating system that has jack to do with the needs of the country.
August 31, 2021 at 12:24 AM #443093General DisarrayParticipant
- Total Posts: 80
I always thought we were winning in Vietnam but also knew there was something wrong in thinking that the people we were training to take over when we were gone was flawed I engaged every bit of my ability into making our endeavor a success but in the end it was fruitless I gave six years of my life to that endeavor and have paid a price ever since Killing other human being takes a part of ones sole that can never be reclaimed Your government saying its ok to do it for ones country is flawed Not only me but my entire family, wife and children have paid that price because of my behavior I have no words to tell them how wrong I have been My actions have been unforgivable and I am without words to make amends May the force have mercy on me
August 31, 2021 at 2:56 PM #443189Average GazooParticipant
- Total Posts: 566
me in the street — “She should be in a HOSPITAL!”
If I had any inkling that that was true it would have disturbed me deeply. It didn’t and I had the luxury of hearing it as love — a person who was very concerned about my loved one but had no idea what the reality of the situation was, angry at me and biology for not saving her friend.
We asked Vietnam vets to do the impossible: to change minds and hearts using only bombs, napalm, claymores and M16s. Like my relative’s neighbor, those angry at the outcome had no idea what the reality of the situation was. Worse: they treated their own cognitive discomfort as equal to life-altering experiences and sacrifices of those they self-righteously criticised.
Be the Change
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