Vietnam War

Christian Appy argues that Vietnam was a “working-class war” because a disproportionate number of soldiers who fought in the war were from working-class backgrounds. He believes that the war was fought primarily by working-class soldiers because they were more likely to enlist due to economic and educational factors, such as limited job opportunities and access to higher education.

According to demographic data, most enlistees in the Vietnam War were 19 years old, and many had not completed high school. African American and Hispanic soldiers were also overrepresented compared to their proportion in the population at large. This indicates that the Vietnam War was primarily fought by young, poor soldiers who did not have access to higher education or other opportunities.

Gerard DeGroot argues that U.S. troops became demoralized by the late 1960s due to several factors, including a lack of clear objectives, poor leadership, and the harsh realities of combat. He suggests that soldiers became disillusioned with the war effort when they realized that their sacrifices were not leading to any meaningful progress in the conflict.

Low morale impacted the social relations of soldiers in several ways. Some soldiers became isolated and withdrawn, while others developed drug or alcohol addictions to cope with the stress of combat. There were also incidents of racial tension and violence within military units.

There is still a class divide in U.S. military service today, although the demographics of the military have shifted somewhat. While the military continues to be a popular option for young people from working-class backgrounds, there has been an increase in the number of soldiers who come from middle-class or upper-class families. However, the military still tends to attract those who are looking for economic opportunities and career advancement. This means that the military remains an attractive option for those who are seeking stability and financial security, regardless of their socioeconomic background.

2 thoughts on “Vietnam War

  1. Hi Lauren, good post. In the first paragraph, as well as the last, you mentioned Appys belief that working class males had been more likely to enlist due to economic and educational factors. And I agree. In my own post I brought up how anytime I’ve spoken with someone in the military, they had enlist either because their past family members had or for a very specific benefit that came from joining. Because there continues to be a class of people without the means to get what they need/want, I to believe that it’s the working class that continues to make up a good chunk of the armed forces.


  2. Hi, Lauren, good post. I too agree with your assessment that there is a growing number of middle class people entering the armed forces. I brought up a very similar idea in my post. And I think it might be interesting to ask in a future discussion whether or not the armed forces actually serves as a socio-economic equalizer. To be specific, it might be worth asking the class whether or not they think the armed forces actually acts as a ladder for social mobility in that it provides steady employment, experience, and college funding that actually improves the economic well-being of those who serve. Would you then say that this aspect of the armed forces is or is not a benefit to the United States as a whole?


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