RSL president says apology won’t help Vietnam Vets

THE city’s Returned and Services League president has rejected suggestions an annual day of apology should be held for Vietnam veterans.

Western Victoria MP Peter Kavanagh yesterday called on the federal government to adopt the plan and said troops’ treatment after the war had been appalling.

“On their return from Vietnam, Australian soldiers were not given the respect that their overwhelmingly honourable and often humanitarian service deserved,” he said.

“In fact, they were often treated with derision and contempt, sometimes being returned to Australia at night to avoid rabid demonstrators – the political predecessors and soul mates of our new prime minister.”

Warrnambool RSL president John Miles served in Vietnam and said parades for veterans of the conflict held during the 1980s were an important step forward.

“We had our welcome home parade in Sydney and another one in Melbourne, and I can’t see a sorry day doing anything for us,” he said.

“(Those events) mended a lot of fences for a lot of fellas.”

Mr Miles said practical support services meant far more to veterans than the symbolism of a national apology.

“There are still a lot of issues; a lot of fellas haven’t really got over Vietnam. A lot of them have still got a lot of medical problems, but we are being looked after now,” he said.

Mr Kavanagh, a member of the Democratic Labor Party, said former soldiers continued to endure anguish over their roles in the war.

He suggested a date around Vietnam Veterans Day on August 18 as appropriate for the yearly acknowledgement.

“There is reason to believe that a sincere national apology to Vietnam vets might well, even at this late stage, help these men who served Australia so well to get on with their lives and make up for the completely unwarranted abuse and insults that many of them suffered,” he said.

Published: 2010, June 27. | Time-stamp: 11:11 a.m. | By: Alex Weaver | Article Article Title: RSL president says apology won't help Vietnam Vets

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