Murray Border Association Vietnam Veterans closes

A SIMPLE ceremony in Albury on Friday brought to a close 35 years of caring for survivors from Australia’s most controversial war.

Murray Border Association Vietnam Veterans held its last official function, unveiling a plaque at the SS&A memorial wall before members shared lunch together.

The group, which also incorporated the sub branches of Yarrawonga, Wangaratta and Corowa-Rutherglen, had decided to disband owing to an ageing membership with other commitments.

About 30 people watched on as Albury RSL sub-branch chaplain Father Alan Kelb blessed the plaque, which noted Murray Border’s history since 1981.

One of the founding members, Damian Ley said the branch started after 245 Vietnam veterans attended an at-times volatile public meeting in Wodonga to discuss their concerns.

“That they weren’t being cared for, that existing ex-service organisations weren’t interested in them,” Mr Ley said.

“And that, yes, we should go ahead and form a group to represent Vietnam veterans and their particular needs.”

Mr Ley, who served in 1969-1970, said his own Kiewa RSL sub branch had always welcomed Vietnam veterans from the beginning.

But other areas had not, which prompted people to form their own organisations.

“Vietnam veterans (groups) have always started to get people involved, to resolve issues and to train people,” he said.

“To train people to look after their fellow veterans.” 

Over the years, Murray Border had proven a great social outlet for members, with fishing days and family camping trips.

Mr Ley said many members had moved on to roles in other service organisations and situations had changed with the passing of years.

He remained philosophical about the closure of Murray Border Association Vietnam Veterans.

“While it’s sad, there’s no point in things keeping going for the sake of keeping going,” Mr Ley said.

President Gary Treeve led the closing ceremony.

“Things have got to come to an end eventually, you can’t go on forever,” he said.