Australian Greens spokesperson for veterans' affairs, Senator Penny Wright, has used Vietnam Veterans Day today to call on the Australian Government for better recognition of veterans' mental health causes.
Senator Wright said it was important Australia applied the lessons learnt from the Vietnam War and recognised the significant and long-lasting impacts of war experienced by veterans and their families.
"As we remember and acknowledge Vietnam veterans today, it is important we recognise serving in a conflict zone has social and economic costs not only for those directly involved, but also on their families and the wider community.
"Many Vietnam veterans continue to struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health conditions, but housing, finance, employment and general health can also be significant concerns.
"We are now looking at another very large group of newer veterans - those who served in Iraq and those who will be coming home from Afghanistan.
"Many of these veterans will feel the ongoing effects of conflict and it is of great importance that we learn the lessons from after the Vietnam War and provide these new veterans and their families with adequate support services when they return.
"There is evidence families of Vietnam veterans also experience physical and mental health problems at a much higher rate than other Australians. Families and carers play a crucial role in supporting veterans and share the consequences of their service and we must look after them, too.
"If we are willing to send people off to serve Australia in conflict zones on our behalf, we have responsibility to care for them properly when they return."