SOLDIERS from modern wars like Iraq and Afghanistan will need support for decades, says Minister for Veterans Affairs Michael Ronaldson.
Senator Ronaldson held a forum with about 50 veterans in Wodonga yesterday to discuss issues raised by them.
He said it was important the mistakes of the past were not repeated with younger soldiers.
“We cannot do to these contemporary veterans what we did to the Vietnam veterans,” he said.
“This nation let down a generation of men.
“And I’m determined we won’t repeat the mistakes of the past.”
Senator Ronaldson said engaging Iraq, Afghanistan and East Timor veterans was “a real issue” that needed to be worked on.
“The RSL has got to ensure those contemporary veterans feel welcome,” he said.
“The Vietnam veterans in the main weren’t.
“These young men and women do need to be made welcome and I think there’s an understanding in the RSL now that they’ve got to move and move quickly to ensure that happens.”
He spoke about changes to the Department of Veterans Affairs, different payments, and he answered questions.
Albury RSL sub-branch vice president Mark Dando, who served in Vietnam, said issues like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder could lay dormant for many years.
“We’re pushing to get young veterans into the RSL,” he said.
“We’re there to help with those problems and guide them in the right direction.
“We were kicked in the guts when we came home and we want people to know we’re there for them.”
The forum was held at the Wodonga RSL.