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Before this period, clinicians confidently cleaved to official military doctrine and treatment, whereas after this date military psychiatrists were among some of the most vocal and eloquent critics of the war and the psychiatric treatment of combat troops. The tone then became one of dismay, regret, and betrayal. This discussion is a snapshot of naval psychiatry in the Vietnam era. The limited research base, highly focused time frame and the professional perspective of primarily only one participant albeit an important one are all constraints of this study.

Yet, despite these restrictions several significant aspects of it invite further historical exploration. First, if initial psychiatric optimism turned into later pessimism, when did that shift occur? The year seems to be pivotal, but was it a gradual process? What particular events or trends propelled it other than the obvious ones of public protests against the war? Was it deployed as a therapy across all U. If so, did prescription practices differ between Navy, Army, and Air Force?

The concept of the military-industrial complex has received a lot of attention, but in addition to arms and related materiel manufacturers and suppliers might Big Pharma have also been a military-industrial complex component? Finally, a common theme in the history of medicine is the link between clinical innovations in wartime and their later beneficial transfer to civilian medicine: included are plastic and orthopedic surgical techniques; antibiotics; blood banking and transfusions; trauma care; and emergency first responders' technology and protocols.

Did military psychiatry have other spin-offs that benefitted American society at large? This potential research agenda is not unrealistic as the printed record in the form of the American Journal of Psychiatry and Military Medicine , for example, is rich and readily available. Presumably, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery archival records along with other official medical documents are accessible, but some restrictions may apply and some conditions might need to be met.

And oral history testimony is also highly applicable: whereas many of the men and women sailors, nurses, doctors, and warriors who were part of this story are aging, posing well-framed questions to them ought to elicit personal narratives of interest, relevance, and lasting importance. Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. Sign In or Create an Account. Sign In. Advanced Search. Article Navigation.

17 wild facts about the Vietnam War

Close mobile search navigation Article Navigation. Volume Article Contents. Connor, PhD. Oxford Academic. Google Scholar. Michael G. Rhode, BA. Cite Citation. Permissions Icon Permissions.

Search ADS. Contemporary newspaper analyses and subsequent studies of My Lai are voluminous and positional. Google Preview. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

The Psychological Effects of the Vietnam War

Issue Section:. Download all figures. View Metrics. Photographs, and visual media generally, play an especially important role in this process of shaping collective memory of an event. During the Vietnam War, for example, photographs and footage brought the conflict home to the American people. Given how large the canon of Vietnam War photojournalism is and the level of infamy much of it has achieved, it may be surprising to learn that a wellspring of Vietnam War photos from a source other than photojournalists has been largely ignored: the works of military photographers.

Though their works have been declassified over time and physical copies are carefully preserved at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland, it is estimated that less than a quarter of military images from Vietnam were ever made available to the press. In the rare cases where they were published or broadcast, the photographers were rarely credited. This pattern is not unique to the Vietnam War.


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The United States military has had designated photographic units since the Signal Corps began taking photographs in the s. They were created to document operations, equipment, and people, as well as to create a visual record of the conflict. When acknowledged in popular media, however, military photography is often written off as a public relations mouthpiece for the U.

However, the fact that these Vietnam War photos were not intended for publication suggests that photographic units and their commanders perhaps had less incentive to misrepresent or sanitize American military actions in conflict zones. In interviews, Vietnam War-era military photographers have revealed that they do not recall being told to depict any subjects in a way that favored the U. The result is an extensive and nuanced body of work.

It is neither a gritty, unfiltered depiction of combat nor a highly censored attempt to make Americans look honorable. Though the images rarely focus on the carnage of war, they offer surprisingly frank depictions of search-and-destroy missions and prisoner-of-war camps. They place as much emphasis on the thrill and terror of combat as they do on the agonizing waiting periods that fall between the action.

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Ultimately, what is the point of creating a visual history if no one sees it? Next, see what the Vietnam War looked like for those who fought it in this CBS News footage that captured a battle in action in the jungles of Vietnam near Cambodia in March After viewing the Vietnam War photos above, have a look at two of the era's most iconic images: "Napalm Girl" and the Saigon execution.

The Strange Ambush of Team Rock Mat, Vietnam 1970

Then, see the war's horrifying aftermath with this look at the Agent Orange victims who suffered through one of history's worst chemical attacks. By Elizabeth McCauley. These Vietnam War photos taken by U. Army photographers reveal a side of the conflict that few people have ever seen. Like this gallery? Share it: Share Tweet Email. After supplies and weapons were found in a Viet Cong tunnel network, a soldier burns a nearby hut used for rice storage by the Viet Cong. Bien Hoa. January Robert C. May James L. Soldiers gather around a guitar player and sing songs after a long day during Operation Yellowstone.

Samuel L.

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Gas mask-clad soldiers stay low to the ground as they prepare for combat. Date unspecified. National Archives. Prisoners eat a meal in their cell at Con Son Prison, which would later become the sight of the infamous "Tiger Cages" photographs. July In search-and-destroy missions, soldiers were ordered to destroy the homes of suspected Viet Cong in the hopes that it would cripple the resources and morale of the guerrilla force.

In this image, an American soldier carries out these orders with a flame thrower. Vietnamese Army personnel interrogate a Viet Cong prisoner. June Ted T.

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Captain Carlisle Bastian and his company question three old villagers in the outskirts of Phu Dien Hai. Franklin G. A soldier who has chosen to decorate his helmet with a plastic ox pauses and looks backwards.