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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Vietnam-era Spitting: Scientists Say It Happened

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- There is an obscure corner of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that studies and conducts research into the psychological traumas combat and war can inflict on soldiers. The organization is called the National Center for PTSD, the acronym for post traumatic stress disorder. It publishes mental health medical data that is "accurate, empirically-driven, truly authoritative" for the scientific community across the globe.

The research is conducted by agencies like the VA, the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health, major universities and international organizations. Recently, it released a report about PTSD, American Indians and native Hawaiians who served in Vietnam. The project was designed to evaluate their homecoming and readjustment experiences. It is entitled "The legacy of psychological trauma from the Vietnam War for American Indian Military Personnel." And it reports that spitting occurred.

Here is a passage from an American Indian vet describing his homecoming:

"I was spit on and called a baby-killer in the mainstream culture when I first came home, and no way would any college accept me or any good job would be open to me. I felt too ashamed and enraged to accept the love my family and community showed me."

Now, if the mental health community were not largely in consensus that spitting took place, would that passage ever have been published by a respected research organization?

Spitting deniers are beginning to box themselves in like the environmentally-challenged extremists who refuse to budge from their contention global warming is an over-hyped myth. Extremists won't accept any research that challenges their small-minded opinions. They are flat Earthers. Are they prepared to say the National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder fabricated an "urban myth" spitting incident to circulate across the world on the Internet?

The full text of the REPORT is a fact sheet for mental health professionals and families about the aftereffects of war on Native Americans in our nation. And there is information about the National Center for PTSD HERE. The director, Matthew J. Friedman, is a medical doctor who also holds a Ph.D. and he says the center's work is "fortified by our collaborations, research and clinical and consultation experience."

[UPDATE: 1:52 p.m.:, an Ohio blogger, has been busy compiling spitting stories from across the United States. He's come to the conclusion that homecoming veterans were indeed spat upon during the troubled Vietnam War era, and is scoffing at the "urban myth" camp. The Bizzy work is well worth examining.]


  1. (sarcasm)

    Oh for cryin' out loud, Bill, what good is any of this? "Everybody knows" that patients lie to their shrinks.

    And besides, did the shrinks get newspaper accounts or police report verification? Did they attempt to locate the spitters, so there could be soul-cleansing reconcilations? Did the vets get the names, addresses and phone numbers of the spitters when these events occurred so that these meetings could happen years later? AHA -- I didn't think so.



    Nice job. Probably just scratching the surface.

  2. Thanks for stopping by. There is quite a bit of research into PTSD and how a negative "homecoming" experience affects vets. Not sure will dive into all the scientific literature -- there is a lot.

  3. To augment your research, a lady that posts on the Swift Vets forum has compiled and stored about 12 jpg copies of news articles from the late 60s and early 70s that all mention Vets being spit on.

    Page two here has them; Spitting on Vets a Myth?

    She also listed other references as well.