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In January 1962, the first Allied combat, combat advisory, and support forces arrived in South Vietnam. By the end of the War, almost 3 million allied personnel had been engaged in this violent Conflict. Six nations provided the Allied Military Forces to support the Republic of South Vietnam from 1965 through March of 1973. The tropical environment posed many challenges to the Allied Military Forces in waging a war against an elusive enemy who had a history of fighting in such an environment. Most Allied combat units spent weeks in the brush enduring the inhospitable environment that included an invisible but deadly enemy. For those soldiers living in outposts or isolated bases or airfields, the constant enemy shelling deprived them of sleep, leaving them exhausted, disoriented, and too often contentious and increasingly depressed. Beyond the possibilities of injury and death during combat, military personnel were exposed to diverse agents and environments that may have affected their health, and thus caused injury and disease while in service or after discharge. Indeed, insect-transmitted diseases and other health related issues accounted for more casualties then did enemy bullets and bombs. Many of those exposures reflected the diverse tasks and functions of military personnel serving in unfamiliar environments associated with combat operations. Fifty health studies of Vietnam veterans by four of the Allied Nations confirmed that with two exceptions, no Vietnam veterans were ever exposed to Agent Orange. What the health studies did confirm was the impact of the “Vietnam Experience” on the long-term health of the men and women who served in the Vietnam War.
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