Veterans: the Impact of Violence on American Service Members through History

Actions of violence never lead to peace or security. Aggression always results in destruction, loss, frustration, pain and casualties. War is the eternal thirst for power, which is never enough. No matter what kind of conflict might be implied: civil, religious, or political one, the consequences are destructive for current and future generations. In American history, several conflicts have reflected in the consciousness, minds and hearts of the citizens.

Some of these include World War II, Vietnam War as well as the most recent ones such as the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts ongoing today. These events have affected the level of homeland security, aiding criminal and violent groups to take advantage of the situation. Nonetheless, more ought to be done to address those serving in these Special Forces and the experiences they undergo in their lives.
Anytime a soldier is exposed to war, several things happen. The exposure to the deaths, killing and the brutality of wars changes the way they relate with people. Right and wrong become relative because they have emotional trauma and physically may be hurt from the engagements. They watch some of their friends die in the line of duty and have to live with such images for the rest of their lives.

These actions are quite significant in deliberating on some of their actions as they lead to mental stress and affect relationships with others. Some get uncontrollable anxiety, anger, fear and the uncertainty of life become a big problem amongst them as they attempt to interact with others. Physically, they may be amputated or injure their bodies and have to live with such scars for the rest of their lives.

World War II

World War II took place between 1939 and 1944. The casualties of war at this period were many because the weapons were more advanced compared to the First World War. Every country was involved in the protection of its territories and foreign interests. American forces were deployed due to the pressure from the German provocations that took place during that period. Soldiers were positioned in different parts of the world so that they could assist in maintaining the peace.

The soldiers worked on the orders from the department of defense that sought to establish its supremacy across the world with the American soldiers expected to act according to set orders. Any conflicts that arise sometimes end up sending forces to warring places only to affect their lives for a long period. It was during the Second World War that the American soldiers dropped atomic bombs in Japan, ending the war instantly.

The move was huge enough and had so many impacts on the soldiers and their victims for years to come. The bomb almost annihilated the whole of the city involved, an attribute no soldier will be proud of because it means even children were caught in the damage. Such attributes lead to domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse, due to an increase in stress. Some even get into depressive moods. The society has not yet created a strategic plan to help veterans deal with their depressive moods, and most of them turn to alcohol as the escape from their reality. This should not be the case for people who have fought to maintain the country’s peace and sovereignty.

Vietnam War

This twenty-year-long conflict took millions of lives, ruined cities, regions and the majority of the country, affected future development and the lives of many people. Most of the members of US forces did not want to join the war, yet the call of duty or other various reasons pushed them into the long-term conflict. In fact, some of soldiers in Vietnam became addicted to opium that was common in their line of duty.

They went on to imbibe on the same even after the war, an aspect that affected their lives. They became accustomed to the way they lived and when they got back to their country, no federal programs were present to assist them deal with the postwar life at home. Whether or not they felt proud of their service or sustained war injuries, returning Vietnam veterans received a lukewarm welcome for their service. A vocal section of the public vented its frustration since it felt that money was wasted for no apparent reason.

While most Americans viewed World War II as the “good war,” a majority of the American public viewed the Vietnam conflict as a disaster. Hans Pols and Stephanie Oak highlighted the following in their investigation:  “Before the Vietnam War, psychiatric consensus held that soldiers who recovered from an episode of mental breakdown during combat would suffer no adverse long-term consequences.

A major shift in psychiatric interest in war-related psychiatric disability took place after the Vietnam War. Fifteen years after the United States withdrew from Vietnam, an epidemiological survey concluded that 480 000 (15%) of the 3.15 million Americans who had served in Vietnam were suffering from service-related PTSD”.

Taking into consideration the given information, psychiatric disability was a very wide-spread phenomenon among soldiers of the Vietnam War. In one of the interviews, a Vietnam veteran Bob Steig was brave and honest enough to share his experience. For instance, he confessed: “You came back beat up, in some cases pretty physically. It is like war, anyway, that especially includes people, who are coming back from wars right now. Guys lose lens, and sight, and hearing flip out, PTSD…”.

Additionally, Steig pointed out the psychological pressure especially given that they could rarely forget the moments they went through at war. They experienced near death moments and watched their friends die. Such things affect one’s interactions a lot. Furthermore, the kinds of stress the troops might have experienced caused mental disorders, social anxieties and, unfortunately, domestic violence. These are the consequences of ignored measures of stress prevention during unstable emotional conditions.  

Iraq and Afghanistan Conflicts

The start of the war on terror affected both Afghanistan and Iraq, with the Bush administration clear on its intentions. The aim was to avenge the deaths of more than 3000 people who died due to an act of terror. The entire process created new warring zones with American troops and soldiers being deeply involved in the region for a long period. The two warring sides had sophisticated machinery that allowed them to inflict as much damage to the other during the war. Children, women and the elderly became casualties of the wars and the American soldiers were killed via the IEDs planted along their paths. Soldiers narrated how they lost friends along the way and nothing was guaranteed because they saw their friends die right in front of them.

Increased incidences of violence

The conflicts noted hereinabove have different meanings to the soldiers. To the common citizen, a war is only disastrous if it affects them directly. However, solders, due to their call of duty, have to establish a strong understanding of the general attributes noted across the systems. They have to risk their lives and that means not being assured of seeing their families again. They have to experience some of the stressful conditions that come with losing friends and family.

The war also hardens them. They block their feelings and the only way of venting is through alcohols or such drugs. Prescription drugs begin to take their toll as well because of their availability within the markets. Stress becomes more and the soldiers have to pretend to numb their feelings. They even start playing violent video games as a way of venting their anger and relieving their stress. It becomes difficult to handle their stress if nothing is done within the expected time frame to address their conditions.

The government and society in general should play a vital role in establishing its productions so that the systems involved are imperative when handling such conditions. The soldiers need attention and initiatives are vital to protect them from deterioration. Exchanging programs, non-violence initiatives and volunteer work are noticeable changes in recent times. Reviewing the issues will create a situation where such attributes can be addressed, with the aim of establishing something better for the veterans. The country owes it to the soldiers for their dedication and thus should have a means of addressing their plight.

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