The “war” against COVID-19 evokes striking parallels to the Vietnam War.

The daily statistics about COVID-19 deaths have become the daily body count of U.S. lives on the evening news during the Vietnam War. Then, like now, many of us have become numb as the death count mounts.

While the growing number of deaths is disturbing, another parallel is also in play. After Vietnam, many of our nation’s finest developed post-traumatic stress disorder. These men and women were mainly ignored and their disease seen as illegitimate — often they suffered alone and in silence. The second parallel draws on this longer term effect. If you look at data coming out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one-third of COVID-19 patients have ongoing debilitating effects from the coronavirus.

We currently only have about 6.3 million U.S. cases to date out of a population of 330 million. Consider what our world will look like if the cases continue to mount and a significant percentage of folks potentially develop lifelong health problems. Like Vietnam War victims of PTSD, they might be ignored.

The most disturbing parallel is the lack of leadership. The recent Republican National Convention essentially avoided discussion of the pandemic, referring to it in the past tense. Then, as now, our leaders are lying to the American public, silencing experts and creating their own bizarre “alternate facts.” This will lead to another long-term consequence. Many of us may needlessly develop chronic health problems and will be compelled to silently suffer.

Bruce Riefenstahl

Mount Joy