BEN DAVEY is proud to be called a Nasho.
The Wagga man was one of 63,735 young Australians called up for either 18 months’ or two years’ military service between 1965 and 1972 as part of a national service scheme.
Many of them were trained at Kapooka.
The 50th anniversary of what is officially known as the second era national service scheme will be marked with a commemorative service in Canberra on Tuesday.
Nearly a quarter of Nashos – 15,381 – served in the Vietnam War, the most controversial military conflict in Australia’s history.
A number of them suffered post traumatic stress because of their experiences in the war.
“A lot of people who have not served do not know what it is like for a young soldier to be put in horrific situations,” said Mr Davey, president of the Wagga and District sub-branch of the National Servicemen’s Association.
“What worsened their condition was they were reviled by the community, especially by the peace groups who wrongfully took out their frustrations on the troops when they should have been turning their attention to the government of the day.
“A lot of Vietnam Veterans did not get good assistance (for their post traumatic stress) and withdrew into themselves.”
A long-overdue welcome home parade in 1987 buried many demons.
The national president of the National Servicemen’s Association of Australia, Major Earle Jennings, said another march in Canberra on Tuesday as part of the 50th celebrations would also help provide closure for Nashos and their families.
“The march will instill pride again and show people Nashos were also true sons of Anzac,” Mr Davey said.
Mr Davey said most Nashos were happy to have served their country the way they did.
“Contrary to press reports at the time, once they (Nashos) got in they found it was not hideous as they thought, and they embraced their service,” he said.
“Most are proud to have served in the Australian Defence Force.”
Later in the year, the Wagga sub-branch will unveil a commemorative plaque in the Kapooka chapel to mark the 50-year milestone and to recognise the work of Kapooka personnel in preparing Nashos for their military service.
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