One of the worst things that caused trouble for Vietnamese civilians was chemical warfare such as Napalm, Agent Orange and Agent Blue. Once the war was over and the American troops had left Vietnam, the chemical devastation remained and the American botanist Arthur Galston was worried about the impact on the Vietnam environment as early as 1967, even before the war had ended and chemicals were still in use. Three years later, Agent Orange was linked to causing cancer and one year later was banned.
Australian veterans were starting to suffer illnesses after exposure to Agent Orange but a report in 1985 said there was no link between the cancer, illnesses and deformities with the Australian veterans. Later in 1993, this was over turned and proved that chemical orange did cause the atrocities the veterans were showing and a fund was set up to compensate the veterans. The Vietnam countryside also suffered huge damage due to the war; 5. 4 million acres were destroyed or damaged via the chemicals or bombings.
Also, the land was contaminated due to the chemicals and covered with mines that had been placed during the war. The Vietnamese people had to return to these lands that were once there homes and try and work on the land. With the land being full of chemicals, crops wouldn’t grow or not very well or were not edible as they had grown in contaminated soils and were thus contaminated them selves. The unexploded mines still claim lives today as that many were planted whilst not all exploded. The Vietnam civilians were picking up the consequences of the war long after it had ended. Her economy was also damaged.
Once Vietnam was a major world supplier of rice, after the war it wasn’t able to feed it’s own people and had to import food to prevent starvation but unlike Australian veterans, there was no fund to help the people, as Vietnam had become communist country, and rich countries like America would not send aid to the communists. Once the South had been reunited with the North, the communist government tried to control the whole of the Vietnamese economy and the farmers and workers were expected to accept these changes. The way the government controlled the economy was unpopular.
The money that the country used to make off the rice wasn’t there due to polluted soils and the country was growing poor. Many skilled Vietnamese fled the country at the end of the war because they knew that the country was going to be unable to offer them the jobs they were compatible to. For the refugees, matters got worse when the country was drawn into wars with Cambodia, in 1978, and even China in 1979. The hardships were too much for many. Thousands began leaving. Many managed to get out of overland, but most escaped by boat. They became know as the boat people.
They almost used anything that floated. As many as possible crammed into the vessels and sailed for Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand. Malaysia did not have resources to accommodate them and forced them to turn back. Pirates attacked many boats and others simply sank. At least 50 000 refugees drowned. About a million actually made it to the west, some settling in Britain, but most making it to the United States. More American veterans committed suicide than were killed in the fighting of the war. This shows the devastation it caused to soldiers because of the atrocities they witnessed and took part in.
Many soldiers couldn’t cope with being an eye witness to people being killed all a round them and this changed them mentally for life even when they had returned from the war. Many became drug addicts as many found drugs while in Vietnam a easy way to forget about what was happening for a small time and feel good in themselves. These soldiers needed the daily dose of drugs even after the war had ended, this meant that they would do anything to get the money for the drugs, so many became homeless and began to beg while others again committed suicide.
The many problems for the Vietnamese however was those the lands were destroyed and it looked as though their way of life could never be the same again. The chemicals also introduced many deformities to unborn children and no money was given to the parents of these children, the chemicals caused deformities in pregnant parents for years to come and still some to this day. These were all connected to the Vietnamese people that came into contact with the chemical. Napalm burns that many Vietnamese civilians suffered were life threatening and scared people for life.
Many children who were caught up in the Napalm bombings are still suffering today and will have to have treatment for the rest of their lives. Due to the war being fought in Vietnam, American civilians weren’t injured personally by the fighting but still suffered, they had to cope with the huge tax increases to pay for the war, see all the devastation which was being caused on television and in papers, receive letters from son’s and relatives of how bad the war was and how they wished not to be there due to it’s horrific effect on soldier’s minds.
The Americans also had to cope with the veterans whom no one would employ and see many who fought for the country beg for money in the middle of the streets as well as seeing the result of the wounded veterans who fought for America suffering from drug addiction. People that fought for their country begged in the street when they should have been congratulated for their brave actions by their country.
But American was ashamed by her role in the war and this guilt affected American life long after the war had ended. It was telling the people of America it was going to win the war and lied to them about that they were winning when most times they were being defeated, it was ashamed to remove the soldiers form Vietnam without the expected win the Government was telling its’ people about and remove itself form the war with only negative results such as deaths and injuries.
This brought Americas status as the strongest country in the world to a unexpected change among a lot of countries and many began to believe that America wasn’t as strong as first made out, especially if they couldn’t defeat a country that had few weapons and America had the newest and latest in deadly weaponary. The war seemed to bring more devastation and heredity after it finished than while it was being fought.
There were more deaths after the war than during it with people killing themselves and newborn children not surviving a day after birth and having mass deformities. Many wounded also died via their wounds caused as a result of the war and many died from over doses of drugs. Although the war was fought in Vietnam, the results of the war for both sides was worse than anyone would have imagined and if each side knew what the war would result in, then maybe the war would have never began.