The legacy of Vietnam
The following letter by MAPW volunteer Maria Swrydan was published in The Age on Saturday 11 August. Maria has been researching the long-term of effects of the Vietnam war on returned servicemen and their families.
Bruce Davies' extract ''Behind the front line'' (Focus, 9/8) reveals just the beginning of the physical and mental tolls exacted on Australian Vietnam veterans. Almost three-quarters of the 60,000-odd Australians sent to Vietnam suffer some form of ongoing physical or mental health impact as a result of their service.
Davies cites research suggesting that the suicide rate of conscripted Vietnam veterans does not exceed that of the rest of the population. However, we need to remember that conscripts were selected for their mental and physical fitness.
While acknowledging the impact of Vietnam on veterans' children, there is no mention of veterans' wives who have also developed post-traumatic stress disorder due to living with their traumatised husbands.
Ongoing health problems are the major legacy of the Vietnam War within Australia. This is something we should not forget as soldiers continue to be sent to and return from Afghanistan.
Maria Swyrydan, Parkville