Apologies Should Be Forthcoming From Various Corners
I’ve just finished reading “Stolen Valor” by B.G. Burkett. This is a stunning book.
Everything you think you “know” about the aftermath of Vietnam veterans , including the supposed high rates of suicide, homelessness, joblessness, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Agent Orange causing cancer, is not supported by any evidence.
Burkett’s book can be summed up like this (I hope I’m not forgetting something key here). During the 80s and early-mid 90s, he used FOIA requests to gather personnel records of every Vietnam-era vet who showed up in public life: those who appeared in stories in newspapers or on TV shows, politicians, etc. In every single case which he documents in the book, the vet is a sociopath who lies about nearly everything they did, including whether they even went to Vietnam. Most of them earned only the bare minimum of medals, such as the Wartime Service Medal, representing that they were in the military (not necessarily in theatre) during wartime, rather than the elite Medal of Honor or Distinguished Service Cross, which represent true heroism.
They were all, across the board, your basic liars and drunks and drug addicts, who use excuses to explain away their inability to deal with life.
And the media was there to lap it all up. Willingly, even enthusiastically. Dan Rather, and CBS, in particular, do not come off looking well, for a report filled with slanted and unsubstantiated lies and half-truths called “The Wall Within”. Burkett shows that nearly every point the show made was factually wrong, and that all five of the featured vets were lying scum.
These “journalists” didn’t do any investigative work to see if what any of these “war heroes” actually did, or even if they had been in country at all.
So it was a potent combination: a few fringe liars, and a lazy, naive, anti-war media trumpeting their stories.
In this way an entire generation of military men, and an entire war, have been stained by lies, innuendo and shoddy reporting.
And it’s happening again, right now, with our efforts in Iraq.