• Tony Bosworth

Templeman calls for Nashos recognition with Vietnam campaign medal

Some 60,000 Australians served in Vietnam, with 521 killed and over 3000 wounded and for thousands of them there has never been formal recognition of their service. It's a situation Macquarie MP Susan Templeman is seeking to get changed.

MP Susan Templeman and Shadow Veterans’ Affairs Minister Shayne Neumann with members of the Blue Mountains Vietnam Veterans and Associated Forces Inc during a visit to Richmond earlier this year.

Ms Templeman has written to the newly-minted Minister for Veteran’s Affairs, Andrew Gee, calling for formal recognition of thousands of National Servicemen who fought in Vietnam with a Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal (RVCM), after his predecessor knocked back the request.

In her July 20 letter, Ms Templeman stated her support for presentation of the RVCM to some 3000 National Servicemen who, due solely to the conditions of National Service, were not able to complete the 'qualifying' period of 181 days that Australia requires for veterans to receive the medal, originally awarded by the former government of South Vietnam.

“Richard Barry, OAM, has been leading the campaign for these estimated 3000 affected National Servicemen to receive the recognition they deserve, and I have also had discussions with Blue Mountains Vietnam Veterans & Associated Forces Inc Secretary, Mr Chris McKay, on this very important matter,” Ms Templeman said.

“I believe that this is a cross-party issue that can be supported from both chambers.

“I previously wrote to the then-Minister, Mr Chester, about the issue and he responded saying it wasn’t legally possible for the Australian Government to amend the eligibility criteria. But Richard has subsequently advised he isn’t requesting the criteria are amended, but that his most recent submission is based on new grounds.

“There is widespread community support for the proposal from senior ex-service people and ex-service organisations.”

Mr Barry said he had to refer some of the affected veterans to the newly-established Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide due to the psychological harm imposed by the issue.

“These constant 'put-downs' are affecting those who already suffer the perils of chronic PTSD. God only knows how many have died by their own hand since coming home. Sadly, DVA has not kept these records of Vietnam veterans,” Mr Barry said.

“We are waiting for the new Minister for Veterans' Affairs to thoroughly investigate the "Appeal for Reconsideration" submission handed to him in Parliament this week.

Richard Barry writing home to his father in Narrabri NSW following an explosion that occurred at Nui Dat, South Vietnam in July 1969

“These men - and families of the deceased - have waited for more than 50 years to march next Anzac Day alongside their mates proudly wearing the RVCM.”

Ms Templeman said the proposition those who served in the Vietnam War but didn't complete the required 181 days because their service obligations finished shouldn't block them from receiving this foreign campaign medal.

“It is ethically appropriate to right this wrong,” Ms Templeman said.

“This is an important issue to the many ex-servicemen it directly impacts on.

“I’m looking forward to hearing a positive response from the Minister. We need to fix this anomaly and give our Nashos the recognition they deserve.”

Ms Templeman is due to meet with Shadow Veterans’ Affairs Minister, Shayne Neumann, about the issue next month.

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