Graham Walker’s 21 years in the Australian Regular Army included active service during the Indonesian Confrontation and the Vietnam War. He was Mentioned in Despatches and awarded the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star. After retiring from the Australian Army in the early 1980s, Graham shifted his focus to the domestic battleground of returned servicemen and women. In his work with the Vietnam Veterans Federation of Australia, Graham has assisted thousands of veterans to receive their entitlements, advised governments, authored research and campaigned for the official history of Agent Orange to be rewritten. Passionate about music and the arts, Graham has acted as a military and curatorial advisor on projects ranging from Bryce Courtney novels and David Williamson plays to music video clips, museum exhibitions, theatrical dance productions and the Australian TV mini-series, Vietnam. Graham’s outstanding contributions have carved out a well respected place in Australian history, and will ensure that the Vietnam veterans’ story is faithfully captured in arts and culture for future generations.
Here is my short acceptance address:
It was, I thought, more than enough Honour to be thought worthy of the company of Bob Buckley, Subhash Chandra Jalota and Bernadine Mulholland….
On the other hand, being placed firmly in the ‘Seniors’ category has made further self-deception on my part, difficult indeed.
Ancient too, is the human tragedy of wars and their aftermath.
One of the shocking statistics from the Vietnam war is that the children of Australian Vietnam veterans have had a 300% higher suicide rate than their peers in the general community. Much of this comes from family dysfunction contributed to by the veterans’ war caused psychological damage.
Remedying this situation is not easy because it involves a Catch 22.
The war damaged veteran contributes to family dysfunction. Then that dysfunctional family cannot give the support necessary for the veteran to become healthy again.
The organisation to which I belong, the Vietnam Veterans Federation, is doing all it can to help prevent this horrible statistic repeating itself for our veterans returning from Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan.
We all, as a community, should, I believe, be generous and unstinting in our efforts to help veterans and their families, damaged by the veterans’ war service.