Seymour Telegraph

Commemorat­ive walk a place of healing for veterans

- By Bianca Hall

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.

 ?? ?? A healing place: John Phoenix speaks at the Vietnam Veterans’ Day service at Seymour’s commemorat­ive walk.
A healing place: John Phoenix speaks at the Vietnam Veterans’ Day service at Seymour’s commemorat­ive walk.

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