|RECOGNISING THE SELFLESS CONTRIBUTIONS OF VIETNAM VETERANS
A message from the State President
Throughout Australia’s 10+ year involvement in the campaign, more than 60,000 Australians from all three services of the armed forces served in the war. Throughout this decade of service, 523 persons gave the ultimate sacrifice and more than 3,000 were wounded or fell ill.
Now, as we mark 50 years since Australia ended its involvement in the Vietnam War, we are grateful that their legacy of camaraderie, care, and compassion lives on.
As the son of a Vietnam veteran, I understand the significance that this day holds for many veterans and their families across our country.
It’s equally important that we also acknowledge that from the outset the Vietnam War was considered politically and socially divisive, and many veterans were not treated with the respect and honour they deserved upon returning home.
Many faced discrimination from the community and several institutions, including – on occasion – the RSL. While the failings of the past can never be rectified, we must do what we can to acknowledge and honour the selfless service of our Vietnam veterans.
While some turned their backs on our vets, Vietnam veterans never turned their backs on our community. They continued to serve in their local area, as volunteers, as front-line workers in our police force and hospitals, in our schools helping educate the next generation and every other industry you can think of. They made it their mission to make sure that the next generation of returned service men and women, and their families, received the support and respect they were often denied.
My generation and the many that have come after me have benefitted immensely from their selflessness and their drive to ensure other veterans were not treated as they often were.
This week, RSL Sub Branches across our state will, in their honour, host commemorative services and help tell their stories. The day is also a chance for us to recognise their service and thank the many Vietnam veterans who volunteer their time in RSL Sub Branches and in their local communities.
Their stories are the life and legacy of our Vietnam veterans, and this legacy is one we must acknowledge as we reflect on the past treatment of veterans and move forward in the future.
We’re lucky to call Australia home, but it is only the freedoms we so readily enjoy are thanks to the veterans and their families who have gone before us – to this we must say thank you.
Major General Stephen Day DSC AM