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Essay In Country by Bobbie Ann Mason: The Impact of the Vietnam War

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The Vietnam War took place between 1959 & 1975 and “anyone who survived Vietnam seemed to regard it as something personal and embarrassing” (Mason 67). This war is the only war of its passing that is still affecting people today, the last two generations know it by heart and it has shaped some more than others. There are several well documented side effects of this particular war including: post-traumatic stress disorder, but also major depression which can very often be closely associated with post-traumatic stress disorder, there’s also substance abuse, ADHD, sleep disorders, and bi polar disorder. Alongside this array of mental disorders is having to deal with the Identification of the illness which can be extremely difficult as well. The survivors of the Vietnam war are by some sort of social understanding excluded from societies standards, people don’t hold them to the full level of accountability for their actions and they are therefore “free but damaged” (Mason 225). In the novel In Country by Bobbie Ann Mason, Emmet suffers from the psychological burdens of the Vietnam War; identified as post-traumatic stress disorder, he tries to self-medicate with his substance abuse, he is chronically unemployed, and the inability to mature.

Emmett’s substance abuse is another sign of his physiological issues. At sever different points in the novel he’s drinking and smoking his “sweet stuff”, often times “Veterans who return home and are having difficulty adjusting often use drugs and alcohol to self-medicate. They are often not willing to admit that they are having trouble and will make efforts to ease their symptoms and many veterans will use alcohol to relax.” (veteranfamiliesunited 3). Among veterans alcohol abuse is c...


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...nessed, feared, or caused death and injury will be left troubled for a time, and many will suffer depression, aggressive impulses, alcoholism, or the nightmares and mood swings of post-traumatic stress disorder and those who suffer have every right to help and support with their psychological burdens from friends and family. Emmett Hughes was able to return to a seemingly normal civilian lifestyle with his niece Samantha’s help. But to imagine what he had to go through beforehand, to destroy human life against one’s own will simply for the sake of someone with more power than you telling you that you have to. The after effects of war are damaging, sometimes inevitable, and for the most part crippling. But as our soldiers continue to be viewed as pawn pieces for causing pain and destruction on others and the American government continues to dictate that they must.



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