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Honoring Vietnam veterinarians in another era



Do not expect parades along Constitution Avenue, B-2 bomber overpasses or 100-round salute shots from the Esplanade. The Pentagon still has to pinch a few pennies, even though we raked the grandchildren during the trillions of dollars of last week's budget. But Thursday is the first celebration of what will become an annual celebration: the Veterans' Day of the Vietnam War

The new law, signed by President Donald Trump last March, is to correct a 50-year oversight by bringing the approximately nine Years thanks millions of veterans who served during the Vietnam era (1955-1975). General Barry McCaffrey, one of the most decorated heroes, received the first of the commemorative pins that will be awarded to any veteran served during those two decades.

One of the co-sponsors of the new law, Senator Joe Toomey (R. Pa), said last year that an unpopular war meant that some veterans "were treated rather badly in our history during (really) a tragic period, Fortunately, I believe that is now behind us. "

Sorry, Senator, but neither the plaques nor the tears in the eyes of a patriotic goodwill can disguise an overpowering generation reality : The growing gap between our soldiers and society They vow to defend themselves with their lives. No need to look any further than the notorious example of Gregory Salcido, the high school teacher from Rancho Mirage, who recently unloaded one of his students with a US Marines sweatshirt.

"Think of the people you know over there," said Salcido. "They are not like high-level thinkers, they are not academics, they are not intellectuals, they are the damned low of our lows."

The miracle of this incident is that Salcido was summarily fired rather than an icon for the greater edification of Snowflakes are kept throughout the country. The key can be located nearby as the large marine training centers of San Diego and Camp Pendleton are within easy driving distance of Rancho Mirage. Salcido's audience, unlike many Americans, probably knew Marines at the front and might have considered themselves probable recruits. No wonder they were indignant at such an idiotic outburst of a man who was paid to be their teacher!

But today, young people who might know other young people in uniform are the exception. Since September 1

1, our struggles have been led by less than one percent of our population, a new type of American warfare fought primarily with Other People's Kids. Their small numbers force those who are few to return to the combat zones three or four times. They inevitably risk being victims of a perverse type of Murphy's law. In case of a major battle exposure, they risk losing limbs, suffering traumatic brain injuries, or getting PTSD.

It's as if we forgot one of the most important lessons from Vietnam, where combat tours for a conscript usually only took a year: But back, we first learned about PTSD. In his groundbreaking 2010 book Combat Trauma, James D. Johnson documented the decade-long struggle of sixteen former soldiers who faced intense combat in Vietnam. His surprising conclusion: Unlike athletic training, there was no way to prevent trauma through careful preparation. "The greater the exposure to traumatic events, the greater the likelihood of mental injury." And while the wounds of the body would eventually heal, "the emotional impact of our trauma on our lives is a lifetime."

Increasing combat trauma from repeated missions is part of an even bigger problem: America's decision in the 1970s to end the draft in favor of an exclusively voluntary force. In an article by International Security Affairs in 2014, I argued that it was much easier for political elites to wage discretionary wars like Iraq and Afghanistan.

As we struggle with a professional volunteer force, we rarely have to justify sacrificing the sons or daughters of senators or congressmen. Worse still, if military service is more of a career option than a commitment to citizenship, we effectively guarantee that future generations of our soldiers will be endangered by a conscientious objector or a community organizer. Both military service and national security expertise are effectively jeopardized as future elites grow up without directly addressing these tough disciplines.

As a former conscript, I find it difficult to accept that compulsory military service – however unpleasant it was – was certainly a benefit that only became visible after the fact. So I'll gratefully accept my lapel pin if and when it does, reminding that Vietnam has affected every soldier, sailor, aviator or navy, regardless of where we served and whether our responsibilities were big or small.

Colonel Kenneth Allard is a former Army intelligence officer, West Point professor and military analyst for NBC News.


The views and opinions in this comment are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.


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