The Vietnam War started on November 1st 1955 and ended on the 30th of April 1975. During this time Australia was involved from 3rd of August 1962 to 2nd December 1972 when 60,000 Australians were sent to fight. Around 521 Australians lost their lives and another 3,000 were wounded in combat. This report is here to acknowledge the sacrifice and bravery of the returning veterans with celebrations that they have not received. Australia had done its deed of proving our trust to the Americans and the South Vietnam Government and militia. Other Allies of the Australian government during this were America, South Vietnam, Philippines, Canada, New Zealand, Thailand and other capitalist countries. Allies of the North Viet Cong forces were the Soviet Union, China, North Vietnam forces and North Korea.
History of the Australian Vietnam War veterans
Some would have started as the AATTV which were the first Australians sent to assist in training the South Vietnamese soldiers. Australia then started sending in combatant troops after the south VIetnamese government started to pressure Australia which also led to the conscription act in 1964 which led to a lottery system to pick out a random name for military service. By doing this each day when a new name was taken out that man was sent to Vietnam to fight for Australia, whether or not they wanted to, making that most veterans who fought might not have wanted to in the first place. They would have to endure multiple battles against the Viet cong forces. At one point a single battalion of Australians had to hold off against a large attacking force and suffered 24 casualties from them and the relief forces while the enemy suffered 254 casualties and the Australians managed to hold their defense. Then after more constant fighting by 1970 Australia and America started withdrawing troops and later all australian troops were on their way home.
As Veterans started to return from the war many were sent home under the cover of darkness so they would not be seen so no riots could take place. While some lucky soldiers aboard the HMS Sydney were given a parade and welcome when they returned this was only the small minority. Therapy and counselling services were far and few between causing multiple problems for most of the Veterans, since they had a lack of these services they had difficulties coming back to a normal life as a civilian. Most Veterans suffered from severe PTSD from the war and other mental health issues from fighting in Vietnam. Veterans were also ridiculed by members from the public after they were comparing the Australians to the Americans, Americans had done horrible things such as napalming villages and killing civilians and these acts were thought to have also been done by the Australian soldiers even though an account from the Veterans is that they were more humane than Americans.
This caused a rift between the general public and the returning veterans. Also the RSL was not overly welcoming towards the veterans, most of the members such as veterans from WW2 would discuss that the Vietnam War was not counted as a real war. This caused distrust between most clubs and members with the returning veterans. Most current Vietnam veterans have still not been able to join a community to discuss the war and their experiences with other soldiers who fought in the same war. Due to this many Vietnam veterans resented the RSL and the community it created by being byssed towards the Vietnam Veterans. A Lot of our veterans have fallen to PTSD and other mental health issues due to the war making everyday life harder to flow back into to. Many would be suffering the loss of a friend or family member due to the war whether or not they fought as a soldier causing more misery and distraught among families, groups and communities. As of today the veterans are still treated poorly, by the RSL and the overall population of Australia seeing them as baby killers, rapists and murderers, even though we know all such accounts are not true and are simply lies spread by anti war groups to sour the thought of conflict. Although most cases with the RSL are poor some more rural and lass urban groups and communities that tie under the RSL are more welcoming and kinder to the arriving veterans from Vietnam.
Now only a year after the war and the withdrawal of our troops they are still suffering, families broken, communities shattered and the government has done nothing, below you will find actions that veterans themselves believe they deserve. We had massive parades for our soldiers returning from both world wars that are newest veterans feel belittled by them, this is unacceptable.
A good start would be opening more counselling and mental health services to them to help with the Veterans PTSD. Starting a political party or club solely based on aiding and supporting the veterans and their needs would certainly be able to get the word out that the veterans would suffer. Another way to help is to show the public the truth of what soldiers were like compared to the AMericans and how much more humane the Australians were. By having a parade to commemorate them as well would be a great way to boost the Veterans. Better Pensions and healthcare towards the Veterans would also be highly recommended. All of this would allow for closer and reassurance to the veterans, allowing them to integrate into normal everyday life. A special group of people should be made to help find these veterans incase they do not know or are unable to reach out to these services for them so they know what they are now able to claim.
Other things that veterans have requested is just the overall better public view of them and their acts that they did during the war. Some have also requested less travel prices to areas near Vietnam to visit the graves of fallen allies and brothers that died during the war as well as seeing the public there and their perception on what our soldiers did during the war. They should all be treated the same as veterans from the previous wars that Australia has fought in. By doing all these different things we can change lives and communities for the better of the returning veterans and what they have done for Australia.
A new and better education system designed on showing the history and the war of Vietnam to students in school to teach them what the Veterans had to go through and what they had endured throughout the war, what they did to protect Australia and gain the trust of Allied countries such as America.
In conclusion I believe that we should increase counselling, have parades, remembrance as well as a memorial for all the soldiers who fought in the war. We should commemorate the sacrifice that the soldiers made and the bravery that they showed in the face of an overwhelming enemy for our country. The RSL community should also include and accept the Vietnam veterans instead of leaving them out. Many veterans may not know that the communities have been created and made especially for them so they should be sought out and told about this new rising information. The public should be told of what our soldiers were liked compared to the American counter parts, allowing for soldiers to be seen more as heroes than criminals. They should be allowed the recognition of the sacrifice that every soldier did during the war. After talking to many veterans from the war I have found that they just so dearly want to be accepted and recognised as men who have fought and lost many, seeing death and destruction of what an opposing enemy force can do.
Finally, I believe that our veterans should all be commemorated for their actions and service throughout the war and what they did to survive. We live in a country free from communism because of the actions and courage our soldiers did during the Vietnam war, they should be thanked for this and should be shown as heroes to the public. For without the men that fought where would we be?, would a great country still exist today?
Australia had done its deed of proving ourselves to the Americans and the South Vietnam Government and militia now, gaining their trust, it is time for us to do our deed towards the Veterans who fought, sacrificed, bleed and died for our country to stop the Red Menace, lets us return the favour Prime Minister.