Commemorative walk a place of healing for veterans
The Vietnam Veterans Commemorative Walk in Seymour is an important place for healing for those who served in the Vietnam War.
Mitchell Vietnam Veterans Association sub-branch and commemorative walk committee member John Phoenix reflected on this during his speech at the Vietnam Veterans’ Day service which was held at the walk on Thursday, August 18.
Former Mitchell Shire Mayor Phil Melbourne advocated for the commemorative walk and sought to create a memorial for Vietnam veterans in collaboration with the RSL and the Vietnam Veterans Association.
The commemorative walk committee was formed in 2005 and the walk was opened in 2013.
The walk has become an important place of remembrance, not just for Vietnam veterans, but for many people who wish to pay their respects to the sacrifices of Australian
Defence Force personnel, both past and present.
Mr Phoenix believes the committee achieved more than its objective in building the memorial.
“(It was built) as a healing place for Vietnam veterans, which we believe has been achieved,” he said.
“It's something that a lot of the veterans that have hidden away the results of the Vietnam War have now come out and visited this place and they are getting over a lot of the problems that they had.
“I believe the government should look at doing that for Iraq, Timor and Afghanistan, and put money up front and get these memorials sorted out around Australia for all servicemen to start a healing process for those that have got problems.”
The transition back to civilian life after serving in combat zones can be a challenging and isolating experience due to the ongoing psychological impacts the trauma of war can cause.
Last week, the Royal Commission into Defence
and Veteran Suicide released an interim report, which included 13 recommendations to help prevent those who have served in the ADF from taking their own lives.
It largely focused on improving the claims process for support through the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Veterans Affairs and Personnel Defence Minister
Matt Keogh acknowledged the shortcomings of the support systems offered.
“It is devastating that Australia has lost more serving and former serving personnel to suicide than it has lost through operations over the last 20 years in Afghanistan and Iraq,” he said.
Mitchell Vietnam Veterans Association sub-branch
president and commemorative walk committee chairman Ross Stewart, who could not attend the Seymour service on the day, said Vietnam Veterans’ Day was a time when he reflected on his mates and how amazing the commemorative walk was.
He said the walk provided an important place for veterans to get together and feel a part of a community as
people who fought in a war that was viewed unfavourably by the public at the time.
‘Open Arms’ Veterans and Families Counselling is available for free support and counselling available 24/7. It can be contacted on 1800 011 046.
Safe Zone Support (1800 142 072) is also available for those who wish to remain anonymous.