More than 2 million civilians dead on both sides and 58,220 U.S. military fatalities from this war. The vietnam war. Now have you ever thought about the experience that the veterans had? Well i had a chance to talk to a vietnam veteran and hear his experience and how it affected him mentally. Also i got to know how he and other veterans were treated after they get out.
The Vietnam war started on November 1, 1955 and ended on April 30, 1975 which was the longest US combat force participation. The war was a long and costly conflict between the government of North Korea who was communist and tried to expand communism like Soviet Russia, which made the conflict between Russia and US higher during the cold war. But the conflict between North Korea and South Korea, which was the fighting sides. Also the US got involved which made a lot of Americans mad because they thought we had no business being in the war. But when the government decided to get American involved is when the draft happened.
When Robert Terrasas was asked why he joined the war he responded with, “ It was either join the war or go to prison”. Because he had no choice, but he was in Vietnam for 11 months, he was 18 and a half years old when he first got there and he described his experience as good for the first week then the second week he was sent to Cameron bay which he described it as a “detention center” until he got orders to the central highlands which was like the jungle. They were sent there to support the special forces. When he was in a 30 day siege there was grenades, snipers, and rockets shot at them and he lost a close friend he made there due to a sniper, and he saw some of his brothers get out of there with bullet wounds in the back. He said after those 30 nonstop days of fighting it set the set for him and made him close to emotionless and not care about what happened to him besides making it back to the states. He sent no letters home, he volunteered for anything he could just so he could fight for his brothers and have their back. He kept stating that he didn’t care about much besides not getting killed, he carried extra bullets and ammo instead of food and water when he was out in the fronts. He told me he knew why he was there and that was to, “ save yourself and your brothers and make it home. When he finally made it back to the states people treated them horribly by yelling at them and spitting at them because they didn’t want the war to happen. Because of vietnam he also had psychological issues instead of physical.
After the war he was diagnosed with PTSD which he still suffers from today and he gets night terrors and little things triggers him, like being in traffic and he’s still picturing being in Vietnam and on the convoy. He explained to me that the reason he gets angry at little things is because he’s always thinking about the war and how little things that would get messed up by people in the war would get you killed. He also explained to me that the government hasn’t helped him at all with his condition and he had to do everything on his own, he also told me that some of his buddies who he fought with didn’t get the help they needed either for mental health and ended up committing suicide.
This interview was to give you just a glimpse of what people’s experience in the war did to them mentally. From seeing your friends die in front of you to being shot at by guns and rockets to suffering from PTSD with no help from the government.
Article by Dom Smith
Robert Terrasas ( A 3/6 artillery pleiku)