Men & Women: Lives at War

The stories of the heavily damaged Australian partakers in the hideous and gruesome Vietnam War.

The Vietnam war affected many of those that were involved within this war and it’s important for us to understand what these men and women went through in the physical and psychological challenges that had the major capability of heavily harming those who went into the war.

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This comic from the Daily Mirror in 1996 covers that of the ongoing terror that the Australian soldiers endured once they arrived home as they were met with protest and anger by the civilians in Australia. Tired soldiers, instead of being welcomed with love and hugs from their community, were hit with the bubbling frustration by protesters who were focused on the fact that Australia should not have involvement in the war.

This comic perfectly captures the backlash of Australian civilians against fatigued and broken Australian soldiers of the Vietnam war and really makes you wonder why it is that the general public did not at least try to aid and care for those that were subject to the horrors of the Vietnam war, yet instead, they continued to protest and refuse to accept these hardworking and stressed soldiers.

On the other hand, Colleen Mealy, an Australian army nurse, tells her story to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs in which she presents her experience with helping and aiding these dishevelled soldiers, thrown onto the battlefield and brutally hit by the opposing side on many occasions. The conditions she worked in were basic, yet she was overwhelmingly dedicated to the war.

Colleen talks about the hardships she encountered with aiding these soldiers, stating that these men had been completely shattered by the war and their wounds, even noting that you would hear them say things like, ‘My girlfriend won’t want me anymore.’

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She felt honoured to be able to help these men and take pride in aiding them, telling Department of Veterans’ Affairs that even the soldiers with the worst of injuries, such as a lost leg, would use the classic comedic Aussie attitude to help them get through such a hard time. Memories like these completely changed Colleen’s life for the better.

These two perspectives of the war, both from the perspective of a partaker in the war, help us to remember the events of the Vietnam war and Australia’s relationship with it.

They share the similarities of being from the same kind of perspective, both from someone who would have had a part in the Vietnam war and both touching on the ideas of the struggles and horrors of having to be an Australian Soldier in this war.

On the other hand, these two perspectives do, in fact, have a few differences between them. They contrast in the way that Colleen very specifically surrounds her entire interview around how the soldiers affected her for the better, and being grateful for helping these poor, injured soldiers. The comic, dissimilarly, tells us that of the perspective of a singular Australian soldier, enduring backlash from the general public, with no aid.

These sources and perspectives can be used to help us understand the gruesome and unfair way that soldiers were treated by those of their own people and how it’s heavily important for us to remember what these soldiers and partakers in the war went through, specifically during the Vietnam war, also known as one of the most unpopular wars to date.

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