Vietnam Vets Finally Get Their Due

Many Vietnam War veterans will never get over their anger at being snubbed by New Zealand after their return.

However, making 2008 a year with a series of officially sanctioned events marking the service and sacrifice of New Zealand soldiers in Vietnam will help the healing process, veteran leader and event organiser Chris Mullane says.

Yesterday Prime Minister Helen Clark announced Tribute 08, a commemoration and reunion event for all Vietnam veterans and their families. The key event, a Queen’s Birthday reunion, will feature an apology for the treatment of Vietnam veterans – who were never officially welcomed home.

Vietnam veterans organised their own event in 1998, but Mr Mullane said the official Government involvement in Tribute 08 would lend it greater significance.

“It [Parade 98] was not officially sanctioned. In fact, one can say there was considerable official effort to stymie it. That was the veterans saying we’ve had a gutsful, we’re going to run our own event.

“This one, the Government is officially sanctioning and supporting it, including resources, and this one is going to be linked into official apologies from the Government, on behalf of all Governments, and from the defence forces, for their lack of appropriate treatment of Vietnam veterans when they came back to New Zealand.”

Mr Mullane, who served as a platoon leader in Vietnam in 1971, said work on several grievances – most notably for health problems caused by exposure to the defoliant Agent Orange – was well under way.

While not every veteran was pleased with the response of various Governments, Tribute 08 would help ease the pain many men still felt, Mr Mullane said.

“There will always be some who are never satisfied, and some of the suffering can never be fully addressed. It’s just not possible or reasonable to expect that, because it’s beyond the capability of humankind to make it right.

“What we are hoping is that a healing process which began with many of the veterans with Parade 98 – not all, but many – Tribute 08 will further develop and move on that healing process for many more.”

Published: 2007, Aug, 22. | Time-stamp: 5:00 AM Wednesday | By: Mike Houlahan | Article Link: nzherald.co.nz | Article Title: Vietnam Vets Finally Get Their Due.

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