It is so different reading Wages of War after reading Kovic’s book. Some situations were similar, but in this week’s reading, we saw the government’s perspective. First of all, I was shocked when I read about the U.S. Army Lieutenant Calley, who led the My Lai attack on an innocent village. While I understand the problems the soldiers had while in Vietnam, not knowing who the enemy was, I have trouble accepting that as an excuse. I think at some point Calley must have known that what he was doing was wrong. I mean I could understand if they had accidentally attacked the village and there were a few casualties, but the incident at My Lai was far from a few casualties. Even other soldiers who were above in helicopters were shocked by what they saw, unable to do anything about it. I think Calley’s sentence and how it was continually dwindled down was a joke. He first received life in prison but then slowly ended up on parole in a short amount of time. Also, he was pretty much the only one who was charged with murders. I think the other soldiers should have been held accountable for what they had done. Some may argue that they may have only been following orders, but I don’t think that is a valid excuse.
In the reading, it spoke of how the television networks found that broadcasting the war brought in more viewers. I think it was sad how the networks used the Vietnam War to increase business. It was especially sad to read that the network producers saw so much war footage that they no longer tried to understand it; they simply aired it, not taking the time to realize what was truly taking place. Again I noticed the recurring theme of the veterans turning to drugs after the war. The book said that “society would later criticize them.” This was not surprising to me, but it was disappointing to see, again, that the American society was so narrow-minded, unwilling to look at things from the veterans’ perspective.
The Agent Orange problem was one that really made me angry with the government. How could the government be so ignorant? The government acted dumb, as if they did not know what could be causing all this cancer and illnesses. The only reason the government did not jump up to help was because it wanted to save money and in the end veterans were ill-treated, which never fails to happen after a war. This time around, the veterans main problem was not receiving jobs or wanting bonuses; it was the fact that the government refused to recognize the veterans health complaints, pushing them aside trying to cover up the fact that using Agent Orange was hazardous to the soldiers. How many soldiers were denied health benefits? Im sure it is impossible to know, but reading about the different complaints and nothing being done about them was so aggravating. The other aggravating part was that the government so easily dismissed the soldiers sicknesses but was unwilling to research the cause of why so many veterans were suddenly deathly ill. The government was now both ignorant and lazy.
I enjoyed reading about Maude deVictor. I think she was an honorable person for choosing to take the extra time to help the veterans, while her employer, the government, was refusing to help. She was not just an ordinary Veterans counselor; she honestly cared about the plight of the veterans. Even though the government kept refusing her claims that Agent Orange was causing health problems, she continued to do her research and investigations. In the end, most of her investigations were deemed futile and inaccurate by the government, but the media got a hold of it and now more and more people were finding out about this large problem. You would think this would have made the government step up and take initiative and they began to, just in a very slow way. I also was happy at the initiative taken by men such as Frank McCarthy and Paul Reutershan. Even though Reutershan died, I found it so honorable that McCarthy followed through with fighting for the cause.
I think it was unfair that the veterans could not sue the the Defense Department over Agent Orange. They also could not sue the Veterans Administration so they were completely helpless in receiving money or even simply answers & closure. I thought it was wrong how the government tried to persuade the public that the Agent Orange problem was nothing. They even went so far as to tell the American public to not listen to what the veterans were saying. Overall, I truly believe the government was in the wrong for the way they treated veterans. I think this time the government really messed up, because not only were they denying the veterans help, but the government was causing harm to veterans by not looking out for their health. Veterans were dying but the government still remained indifferent.
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