Monday, June 6, 2011

Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia

The Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia (VVAA) had its advent in the Vietnam Veterans Action Association formed in the late 1979 as a result of the perceptions of Vietnam veterans that exposure to chemicals was causing problems with their health and the health of their children. The chemicals, known by the generic name of Agent Orange included 2,4,5,T and 2,4,D, a by product of which is the extremely poisonous substance TCDD or dioxin. The problems ranged from minor irritation to lethal, with symptoms such as skin blisters, itching, flushes, nasal problems, blurred vision, respiratory, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, gastro-urinary muscular and nervous system disorders, cancers and tumours. This was often exacerbated by psychological disorders caused by what was later diagnosed as post traumatic stress disorder.

The Association fought an uphill battle against government indifference, including the bitter disappointment of the now discredited 1983 Evatt Royal Commission on the Use and Effects of Chemical Agents on Australian Personnel in Vietnam. At the same time there was a very real feeling that the RSL had not accepted the Vietnam veterans, and nor would it pursue the concerns of this group with the vigour they believed that those concerns warranted. This feeling was never stronger than during this period, when the VVAA and the RSL were absolutely opposed.


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