Murphy's Law: Phony Vietnam Vets Proliferate


June 29, 2007: Since the 1990s, the U.S. Census has occasionally asked people about their military experience, including whether they had served in Vietnam. There were some interesting results. In 1995, the census data showed 11.2 million people said they served during the Vietnam war period. But only nine million American actually served in the armed forces during the official Vietnam war period (1964-1975, most U.S. troops were out of Vietnam by 1972, and the big build up didn't begin until 1965). And only 30 percent of those were actually in Vietnam. That's 2.7 million troops. The census estimated that, by 1995, only 63 percent of Vietnam veterans were still alive. That meant that 30 years later, Vietnam era veterans who actually served in Vietnam were now only 15 percent of the Vietnam era veterans. Someone is apparently lying to the census. Note that, as a group, Vietnam veterans are healthier, wealthier and better educated than the population as a whole.

Another survey, in 2000, showed the number of people claiming Vietnam era service had grown to nearly fifteen million. No doubt, it probably still grows. Most of those who did serve in Vietnam, volunteered for it. Some two-thirds of those killed in Vietnam were volunteers. Those who served in Vietnam represented nearly ten percent of the men of their generation. The current war on terror will probably only involved a few percent. Moreover, as bad as Iraq is, you were more than twice as likely to be killed or wounded in Vietnam. Phony "Iraq veterans" are already showing up, continuing a nasty social custom that can be traced back to the 19th century.


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