Vietnam Veterans Association Bendigo president Neil Arnott says Saturday’s Vietnam Veterans Day March in Melbourne will be an emotional one.
More than 60 Bendigo Vietnam Veterans will walk alongside family members in the annual march, with this year the 50th anniversary of the commencement of Australia’s involvement in the war.
Mr Arnott said the annual march gave veterans the chance to speak openly about what really happened during the war.
“I was in the 8RAR Battalion in 1969-70 and when I came back to Australia we got abused and yelled at because people back home thought it was a war that we didn’t need to fight,” he said.
“I had to suppress a lot of good memories – when we came home we didn’t get debriefed or receive counselling so that is why these marches mean a lot to a lot of people.”
Mr Arnott said he only became a member of the Bendigo Vietnam Veterans Association in 2004.
“It was only through a friend that I realised there was a march on and I have been going ever since,” he said. “There was a lot of frustration but to take part in the march meant an awful lot, it was quite emotional.
“I remember the first time I took part I was in tears.”
Mr Arnott said it was only after joining the group that he realised he had post traumatic stress. This week Vietnam Veterans will also sell badges around Bendigo to help raise money for the organisation.
Mr Arnott said a photo display had also been created at Bendigo District RSL to commemorate the occasion.