Some wounds never heal

An overwhelming majority of Australians believe that Vietnam veterans didn't receive adequate acknowledgment for their service. But did they receive any acknowledgement from us the public?

Some wounds never heal

No one can bear more forceful witness to this than our combat veterans, who daily confront the physical scars and irrevocable trauma of moments survived. You will never hear of their lonely battles on the evening news. Many veterans refuse to burden anyone with their private struggle to cope with the events of the past. Many more of us, the public, simply don’t care.

Australians continue to be disillusioned by the Vietnam war, thirty six years after the last of our forces were withdrawn from the conflict in December 1972. Hundreds of people commented on a recent Facebook post asking whether Vietnam veterans have received adequate acknowledgment for their service. An overwhelming majority of respondents felt that they have not. Some commented that an ungrateful and misinformed public spurned returning servicemen, and that those who did not purposely shun, committed the equally grave sin of merely forgetting. Others argued that successive governments had failed the soldiers and national servicemen since their return, up to the present day. The Vietnam war still evokes acute emotions and cutting opinions. But, emotions and opinions aside, the fact is that 60,000 Australians were there, in Vietnam, following a call of duty. Some remain there, having never returned. Some returned, but remain there still.

This Anzac Day, when you march in remembrance of your grandfather who fought in New Guinea, or your great-grandfather who landed at Gallipoli, spare a thought for a forgotten digger who was sent to Vietnam. Though neglected, he is still among us, and for him the battle continues. He has earned his place in the hallowed halls of Anzac - honour him thus, with every pace you measure on the 25th of April.

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