Vietnam Veterans’ Day honours the service and sacrifice of those who served in Australia’s longest conflict of the 20th century. For Australia, the Vietnam War began in 1962 when 30 members of the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV) arrived in South Vietnam to provide military training to local units.
Over the next 10 years, Australian forces would fight in fierce battles with the enemy, most notably the Battle of Long Tan in 1966, the Battles of Fire Support Bases Coral and Balmoral in 1967 and the Battle of Binh Ba in 1969. While Australia’s participation in the war was formally declared over in January 1973, elements of the RAAF remained until 1975 assisting with evacuation operations.
By the end of the war some 60,000 personnel from the Royal Australian Navy, Australian Army and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) had served. Tragically, 521 Australians died, and some 3,000 were wounded. We remember them on August 18.
Many of those who returned from the war did so with physical and emotional scars, which remained long after the war and the effects of which often extended to their loved ones.
It was our Vietnam veterans who recognised the need for additional support, establishing a dedicated counselling service that provides specialised mental health and support services to all veterans and their families.
This was known as the Vietnam Veterans Counselling Service, but today known as the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service.
As a nation we owe you our thanks for this vital service that continues to support veterans and their families, and which will be an enduring legacy of our Vietnam veterans. Thank you for your service.
Lest we forget.
Darren Chester, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs