You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Vietnam veterans were unloved: Cosgrove

AAP logoAAP 18/08/2016 Lisa Martin

Governor-General Peter Cosgrove has reflected on how many of his fellow Vietnam War veterans felt unloved and fragile after being "pitchforked back into a largely unknowing and often uncaring society".

Thursday marks 50 years since the Battle of Long Tan, one of the bloodiest of the Vietnam War.

Sir Peter recalled the difficulties returning servicemen faced when they returned to Australia.

"Not too many returned veterans in wars before or since were sometimes booed, or occasionally even reviled by their own countrymen and women," he told a mid-morning ceremony at the Vietnam War Memorial in Canberra.

"It was my impression that the Australian community started to understand that the political anti-war activism that was so strong and virulent in the '60s and '70s had unintentionally marginalised and stigmatised Australians."

Many Vietnam veterans felt alienated by the wider community and in many cases by the government which sent them.

Regrettably ex-service organisations did not seem to embrace them, Sir Peter said.

As well, veteran services, especially for mental healthcare, were rudimentary at the time.

Since Vietnam, Australians had now matured and "no longer conflate those who serve in uniform with the policies which direct their efforts".

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon