American soldiers stationed in Vietnam were met with an unexpectedly horrific experience. Their nightmare began right away. Dropped off in an unfamiliar jungle, they were instantly met with unbearable heat and humidity. Next, they had to worry about the jungle wildlife. Many American soldiers were sick and wounded prior to any encounter at all with the well-hidden enemy or the booby-traps planted heavily throughout the jungle.
The strength of the enemy was greatly underestimated. The Viet Cong stocked with more than enough supplies to fortify and defend themselves. Moreover, they had already dug out a complex network of underground tunnels, which provided them with a great strategic advantage over the Americans.
The American forces were mostly idealistic young men who wished to serve their country. Even if the American government had presented them with an accurate picture of what to expect in Vietnam, there would have been no way to prepare for the extreme acts of cruelty that took place in the field of battle.
The prevalence of marijuana in Vietnam resulted in many soldiers turning to drug use to cope with the abhorrent acts they were forced to both witness and commit. Without numbing the pain, the emotional trauma could be incapacitating enough to make duty impossible. Heroin was another drug soldiers commonly used to deal with the traumatic effects of the war.