CAMARADERIE and mateship were on show at the weekend as hundreds converged on Wagga for the 38th reunion of Riverina Vietnam veterans.
Held in a different Riverina town each year, the event is an important step forward for veterans who are still haunted by psychological problems sustained during the Vietnam War.
“It’s really important for veterans to socialise together,” chairman of the organising committee, David Gardiner, said.
“There’s little pockets of veterans in and around nearly every town in the Riverina.
“It’s good for people who have psychological problems (to come together).
“Nearly every (vet) suffers in one form or another from post-traumatic stress disorder.”
The reunion marked 50 years since ground troops landed in Vietnam and 40 years since all deployment ceased.
Reunions play a significant role in the lives of ex-service men and women, who share bonds of mateship forged during service.
“It’s about vets getting together each year, enjoying everyone’s company and camaraderie,” Mr Gardiner said.
“It was really fantastic once again. They came from all over – Queensland, Victoria, right through the Riverina and maybe some from South Australia.”
The reunion began on Friday with an early registration and information get together at the Wagga RSL Club.
Led by the Australian Army Band Kapooka, Vietnam War veterans, wearing their service medals, marched along Baylis Street to the Victory Memorial Gardens on Saturday afternoon under “perfect weather”.
A commemorative service followed at the Vietnam War Memorial, where member for Riverina Michael McCormack delivered the keynote address.
Senior representatives of the Australian Army at Kapooka and the Royal Australian Navy and Royal Australian Air Force also attended the service.
Proceedings spilled over into Sunday, with a barbecue lunch at the William Farrer Hotel.
Organisers believe it to be the oldest continuous reunion of Vietnam veterans in Australia.
It originated in Leeton 38 years ago and rotates through each Riverina town.
Young will host the 2016 reunion.
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