The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC, Dan Tehan, today officially opened the Vietnam Veterans’ Association of Australia’s 2016 National Congress in Canberra.
Mr Tehan paid tribute to the some 60,000 Australians who served their country in the Vietnam War from 1962 until 1975.
“Australia suffered 521 dead and more than 3000 wounded during the Vietnam War and many more veterans suffered, and continue to suffer, as a result of their service,” Mr Tehan said.
“Australians were involved in many engagements, including Operation Crimp in January 1966, 1968’s heavy fighting around Bien Hoa and Long Binh during Operation Coburg at the time of the Tet Offensive, the battles for Fire Support Bases Coral and Balmoral, actions during Operation Goodwood around Hat Dich in 1968-69, the battle of Binha Ba in 1969 and in 1971 the Battle of Long Khanh.
“We must never forget the price that our Vietnam veterans paid for their service, especially this year, in which we mark the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan on 18 August.
“The bravery, tenacity and sacrifice of the Australian and New Zealand soldiers in the Battle of Long Tan, and the support provided to them by the RAAF and by artillerymen from Australia, New Zealand and the United States are remembered as one of the Vietnam War’s defining moments.
“That victory has come to symbolise Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War. The commemorations for the Battle of Long Tan this year will honour all Australians who served their country during the Vietnam War.”
Mr Tehan also acknowledged the role the Vietnam Veterans’ Association of Australia had played in the establishment of a dedicated counselling service to meet the needs of veterans and their families.
“It was the Association’s efforts during the difficult period following the Vietnam War that resulted in the establishment of the Vietnam Veterans Counselling Service, now known as the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS),” he said.
“VVCS is a legacy of Australia’s Vietnam veterans — because of their efforts veterans around Australia can access specialised mental health and support services.”