Victory for Vietnam vets: Agent Orange finally to be added to official history of Vietnam War 224



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In some great news for the Vietnam vets, it has been announced that a new official medical history of the Vietnam War is to be written to correct the record Agent Orange and its horrible consequences.

After a long campaign by veterans, the council of the Australian War Memorial has decided to alter the official record to show the harmfulness of Agent Orange.

This is a big win for the veterans, Jim Wain, the national president of the Vietnam Veterans Federation of Australia, said to Fairfax.

He said that Professor Barry Smith’s account was “fatally flawed” and “unjustly insults” the veterans over their “years of campaigning” to have the repatriation system acknowledge Agent Orange’s harmfulness.


Mr Wain said that Professor Smith’s history “goes so far as to accuse the campaigning veterans of dishonesty and greed [because the] veterans turned out to be right about the harmfulness of Agent Orange”

He also said the vets’ behaviour, was far from being dishonest and motivated by greed, and was a fine example of the Anzac tradition of veterans looking after their comrades-in-arms.

Brendan O’Keefe, the main author of the 1994 volume Medicine at War: Medical aspects of Australia’s involvement in Southeast Asia 1950-1972, that included Professor Smith’s chapters on Agent Orange, did not wish to comment but had previously encouraged the prospect of writing in the actual history of the event.

For the Vietnam vets in our readership, they will know just how important this win is for those who fought in the war, because they have simply wanted two key findings in the royal commission into the effects of Agent Orange on Australians in Vietnam to be included in the history books.

The omitted findings were “under the standard of proof prescribed by Repatriation law, there were two categories of cancer attributable to exposure to Agent Orange” and “the Department of Veterans’ Affairs purposely disobeyed Repatriation law in not allowing veterans the prescribed ‘benefit of the doubt'”.

Now, finally, the War Memorial council has appointed Dr Peter Yule, History Department Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne, to complete a volume entitled Medical Legacies of South East Asian Conflicts – Vietnam War by 2019. It will also cover other medical issues such as post traumatic stress disorder, which many will know was not considered a legitimate mental condition until relatively recently.

Graham Walker, AM, who was an infantry company commander in Vietnam said to Fairfax, “Of course the veterans’ campaign has been vindicated. The official war history must now tell the true story and restore the reputations of those fine Vietnam veterans”.


Tell us, did you or someone you know serve in the Vietnam war? Are you glad to hear that the history books will be rewritten?  

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  1. Lost a niece born after her father was effected by it he had a rash that he had to the day he died

  2. Absolutely terrible the way these vets got treated by our Govt……more than any other war time fighting personel in our history I would think.

    12 REPLY
    • Disgusting esepcially since here many did not want to go to that war……lets see it never happen again in our ifetimel. These personal stories are so sad and…….wars should be fought by the politicians send them to the front first…

    • dont blame the govt the hate we saw was so strong govts hands were tied .to help us would have caused civel war …

    • It was not just the government of the day ,having animal blood thrown over you called murders and rapists by your own kinsman made you feel about as popular as a turd in a swimming pool

    • People in New Plymouth, New Zealand, also got badly effected by the same chemical Dioxin, my husband Gary did and has been unable to work. TV 3 did a great Documenty called “Let us Spray” in 2006. If anyone is interested to watch it, and go up to the dioxin site also.

    • It was not just the Government that treated the Vietnam Veterans badly – many citizens treated them abominably, particularly the protesters that threw red paint over them. Those that were involved in that sort of behaviour should be ashamed of themselves. All very well to protest but don’t blame soldiers for doing their job and what their country (Government) has asked them to do.

    • It was dreadful the way they were treated , and by the citizens especially . If you didn’t do as your were ordered it was jail as in any country . They were sent .
      And the public response was like they made the decision .
      Funny how people forget , these men and women who fight to keep our freedom, is always judged by those who stay home and do nothing to help us stay safe and free.
      It is absolutely long over due for them to be officially recognized as war veterans and the results of what that agent orange did to those who managed to return .
      But the RSL ? Lot to answer for , in not recognizing them as returned soldiers , which is exactly what they were. That was definitely heart breaking .

    • It wasn’t just our government , it was the citizens of this country , the ( what we called ) the flower people , who should have been sent over there . . Their behavior towards these returned soldiers was disgraceful . As was the RSL . History will show this was a very dark period in Australia for the ( would be )do gooders of this country and what they did to these soldiers on their return .
      The lack of care shown
      to them and their families will always be a dark time for this country .

    • What about the white feathers that were given to men who didn’t go to war !! What was done for or given to our men from 1st 2nd W/Wars…some are still Not getting what they deseve…

  3. I remember well my late husband telling me of the fine mists that use to be sprayed on and around them. Along with his PTSD I am sure he suffered from the effects of this spraying as well as passing some of this poison on to his children and grandchildren.

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