Effect of War on Civilians and Soldiers

Table of Content


War is an ever-present, controversial part of human society. With its pros and cons, both pro-war and anti-war arguments can be easily debated. This report will examine the positive and negative effects of war to gain a more open view of the topic. This is particularly relevant with the current civil conflict occurring in Syria. The question that will be answered is whether war is more beneficial or detrimental. Through research, it is difficult to conclude whether war is a positive aspect of society, as it helps achieve goals, resolve conflict, and advance technology. However, based on personal beliefs and extensive research of both the negative and positive effects of war on societies and individuals, it was concluded that war is detrimental. This means that societies should be inclined to avoid armed conflict and search for alternatives.

This essay could be plagiarized. Get your custom essay
“Dirty Pretty Things” Acts of Desperation: The State of Being Desperate
128 writers

ready to help you now

Get original paper

Without paying upfront

Key Words:
War, veterans, effects on soldiers and civilians, post-traumatic stress disorder, benefits of war, negative effects of war, civilian abuse, economy, disaster.

Effects of War on Soldiers and Civilians

War and violence have been a part of the world for as long as civilization can be traced back. In the past, war was used primarily to gain and protect territory, but reasons have expanded to include catalysts such as the economy, national power, and pride. The long-term effects of war can be positive, for example, stopping Hitler’s Nazi Germany model from expanding further than it already had. However, is it worth the deaths, injuries, and psychological trauma caused by those fighting the war? Often forgotten in the war are the innocent civilians affected. These civilians may face problems equal to or worse than those of the soldiers. There are alternatives with less long-lasting negative effects, and these could potentially be used to help diffuse the current tension in Syria (van Gelder). Although war can have benefits, these benefits are overshadowed by the tremendous negative effects on soldiers and civilians.

The good war can bring.

War has continuously been present in human society because it frequently works towards a goal. In early Roman society, war was found to help countries become and stay more powerful. The Civil War helped abolish slavery, and World Wars One and Two were both successful in stopping Germany and their allies. Additionally, WWII helped the world arise from its severe depression. Armed conflict is often sparked by a country demanding more freedom, and this freedom has been successfully granted time and time again. Within countries, war can also achieve greater minority rights. Underprivileged minority groups who have contributed to war efforts have been rewarded with expanded rights (Saldin). From the battlefields, war has also been known to bring medical and technological advances to the world. For example, Roman societies first started creating road systems for the purpose of war.

Throughout different wars, modern weaponry such as tanks, drones, and fighter jets were created during wartime, although these do not assist peaceful societies. Some technological developments have been brought back from war and have changed society, including advances in automobiles, air traffic control, and even sanitary napkins (Sohn). The wars have also brought medical advances to regular society. Specifically, the Civil War brought advances such as the influence on ambulances, pain management, and anesthesia (Sohn). In later wars, medical advancements like blood transfusions and antibiotics were manufactured. These wartime advancements could have been made in times of peace, but they were made sooner because of war. There is no denying that war has had some positive effect on the world, but the negatives are far greater. These negative effects are reflected on the soldiers who fight in the wars.

Effect on Those Who Fight

The grammar and readability within the HTML tags are already correct.

Soldiers are revered by their countries for the nobility of fighting for their country. Most people comprehend the atrocities that occur during war, but few understand the difficulties soldiers face when it is over. The most obvious issue faced by soldiers is death and injury. The very fear of death and injury during wartime can be crippling itself. The issues soldiers face after returning home can be as bad as those they face during war. Soldiers often deal with serious psychological issues post-war. For example, the Vietnam War took a serious toll on many soldiers as they were haunted by some of the things they witnessed and were ordered to do. Media productions accurately portray veterans turning to drugs and alcohol to ‘drown sorrows’ during and after the war (Hochgesang). The paper on the psychological effects of Vietnam, written by Hochgesang, Lawyer, and Stevens, states that ‘the stress of this war impacted its participants in such a way that they could never let it go.’

Developing post-traumatic stress disorder is a common trend for soldiers dating from WWI to the recent Iraq war (Hochgesang). PTSD occurs when people are exposed to traumatic events. It often contains symptoms like recurring flashbacks, numbing memories of events, and high anxiety. If veterans are fortunate enough to not deal with psychological issues, the problems do not stop there. Soon after soldiers return home, they find that fighting for their country’s freedom did not provide sufficient funds to live off of and have to seek employment. The problem is, studies show veterans have a much higher unemployment rate. A Prudential study stated that approximately 12.1% of Iraq war veterans were unemployed in 2011, compared to 8.7% of civilians. Two-thirds of veterans experienced challenges in transitioning to civilian life and said finding work is the greatest challenge, partially because they did not receive effective support for transitioning (Prudential).

The main reasons soldiers cannot find jobs are due to the poor economic situation in North America. They also have trouble explaining how military skills translate to civilian work (Prudential). Soldiers who have injuries have even more trouble getting a job, and support systems are often inadequate. In Canada, rates of compensation for pain and suffering are often less than those handed out in personal injury settlements (Lethbridge). Obviously, the absence of military workers would result in a higher civilian unemployment rate, but those returning from war deserve the right to work to live. Despite the security of having a job and the pride of being a soldier, the risks of fighting highly outweigh the rewards. Most acknowledge the negative effect war has on soldiers, but many neglect to realize the effect it has on civilians.

Effect on Civilians and Society.

Civilians are often not considered to be very negatively affected by war as they are not directly fighting, but they sometimes face problems worse than soldiers. Civilians have often been targeted as leverage in wartime. This is most famously seen through the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings and most recently, the chemical warfare allegations in the Syrian civil conflict. Civilians are often directly affected by warfare, frequently losing their possessions, homes, and sometimes being physically injured or killed. Civilians are often harassed, mocked, and tortured by both sides of wars. The Soviet army, who were supposed to be the ‘good guys’, raped countless women when liberating Europe during World War Two. Out of all civilians, women and children receive the worst fates. Children are often beaten and killed, and women are raped at knife or gunpoint and are frequently verbally and physically abused (Economist).

In addition, societies are often faced with population dislocations, which include destruction, the cost of rebuilding, and traumas. Human resources are also affected, including direct and indirect deaths and injuries, a decrease in environmental quality, and an overall diminished quality of life (Marshall). Society as a whole is often sidetracked due to armed conflict. Compared to soldiers, civilians may face the same fear of death without the security of having armed protection. Civilians frequently face similar psychological issues as soldiers post-war, as well as often losing property and possessions. The world often turns a blind eye to the misfortunes of civilians. The worst cases of this were present in World War Two, with European Jews and, to a lesser extent, Asian immigrants in North America. Civilians cannot simply be looked at as bystanders to wars, as they are targeted and can face horrible fates. The chemical attack on civilians in Syria exhibits that civilians are targeted as leverage in a conflict. This conflict has the rest of the world contemplating entering an armed conflict.

There are alternatives to military strikes in Syria, though, including those listed in a Yes! Magazine article. These are the alternatives listed to prevent a war in Syria: bringing those guilty of atrocities to justice, calling for a UN embargo on arms and military supplies, holding an international peace conference, offering aid to nonviolent movements in Syria, providing humanitarian aid, and forcing the hand of Russia and China in security (van Gelder). It would definitely take more than one of these alternatives to completely solve the Syrian issues, but it would be beneficial. These alternatives could result in some violence, but they would be much better than a full-scale war for the world, especially the Syrian civilians. The horrible effects of war on civilians are a reason why war is detrimental.


War can help society reach goals, including freedom and justice, and can initiate medical and technological advances that society can use. However, despite its positive outcomes, war has drastically negative psychological and physical effects on soldiers and civilians. The scars of war continue to recur for these people long after the events have ended. In the past, war has prevented atrocities and worked to achieve goals and unite societies, but there are less disastrous alternatives to armed conflict. While war has its benefits, these benefits are highly outweighed by the negative effects that armed conflict has on soldiers and civilians, both directly and indirectly. Armed conflict is neither necessary nor beneficial for society. Implications:

If armed conflict continues to play a role in society, the world will see disastrous effects. With increasingly horrific weapons being manufactured, the negative effects are being seen on people and the surrounding environment. As these weapons become more harmful, more environmental and human destruction will be observed throughout the world. The effects of the WWII atomic bombs were seen in the deformities of Japan’s children and wildlife for generations and could be much worse if wars persist. War could potentially destroy civilization as a whole. War will also result in more deaths and more troubled veterans. Society can donate to funds for veterans, war relief, and petition against war. With enough support, war could be stopped completely.


Hochgesang, Josh, et al. (1999). The Psychological Effects of the Vietnam War.” Retrieved October 13, 2013, from http://www.stanford.edu/class/e297c/war_peace/media/hpsych.html.

Marshall, Monty G. (2001) “Measuring the Societal Impact of War.” Retrieved October 14, 2013 from http://www.systemicpeace.org/IPAmgm.pdf

Saldin, Robert P. (2011) Strange Bedfellows: War and Minority Rights.” Retrieved October 14, 2013, from http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/article/strange-bedfellows-war-and-minority-rights.

Sohn, Emily. (2012) How the Civil War Changed Modern Medicine.” Retrieved November 1, 2013, from http://news.discovery.com/history/us-history/civil-war-modern-medicine-110331.htm.

Van Gelder, Sarah (2013). Syria: Six Alternatives to Military Strike.” Retrieved October 26, 2013, from http://www.yesmagazine.org/peace-justice/syria-six-alternatives-to-military-strikes.

Veterans deserve fair treatment, according to the Lethbridge Herald. The article was retrieved on October 20, 2013 from http://lethbridgeherald.com/commentary/opinions/2013/10/veterans-deserve-fair-treatment/.

Veterans’ Employment Challenges, Prudential. Retrieved October 23, 2013, from http://www.prudential.com/documents/public/VeteransEmploymentChallenges.pdf.

Woman and Children Worst. Economist. Retrieved October 15, 2013, from http://www.economist.com/node/13145799.

Cite this page

Effect of War on Civilians and Soldiers. (2016, Jun 15). Retrieved from


Remember! This essay was written by a student

You can get a custom paper by one of our expert writers

Order custom paper Without paying upfront