The Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia
Towards the end of the Seventies, Australian Vietnam veterans, already excluded from public debate and ignored by the history profession, suffered perhaps the cruellest blow of all when they found themselves excluded from the very institutions whose reason for existence was the care of war veterans. It was as a result of this final exclusion that Vietnam veterans established the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia (VVAA) specifically as a counter-discourse. In this process the VVAA would form alliances that would have seemed unlikely earlier in the decade. Labor politicians and elements of the New Left would stand alongside the VVAA, while conservative politicians, including some who had held prominent ministerial portfolios during the war years, would assist the established discourse in its resistance to the VVAA. Vietnam veterans however, would finally establish their own voice and force its inclusion into public debate.
In order to describe, as a discursive practice, the system Australia has put in place to deal with the welfare of its war veterans (which I will call, for the sake of convenience, the "established discourse"), I will follow a three-step process adopted by Michel Foucault in The Archaeology of Knowledge. The steps are: first, map the first surfaces of the emergence of the discourse; second, describe the authorities of delimitation: and third, analyse the grids of specification. (1) In the case of the established discourse, the first surface arose with the First World War, which left Australia with a new health and welfare problem not covered by existing practices established in peacetime. The nation that had sent so many young Australians to the war acknowledged the special debt it owed to those who returned. That debt placed the government and war veterans in a special relationship, which differed from the normal relationship between government and citizens. The health and welfare of veterans became a matter of compensation, to be paid by the federal government on behalf of a grateful nation. An Act of Parliament was passed to provide a legislative framework for the expenditure of public money on repatriation issues, a government department was established to deal with the necessary administration, and a minister was appointed to provide accountability to the parliament. The department is now known as the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA), previously the Repatriation Department, and the legislation is now the Veterans Entitlements Act, although in the 1970s it was called the Repatriation Act.
There is another important element to the established discourse. In the years following the First World War, veterans themselves formed organisations to lobby governments, to ensure that their wounded comrades received treatment, and to relieve the burden on war widows and their children. Over the subsequent decades, one such organisation became the largest and most influential: the Returned and Services League (RSL). The League soon became much more than an ex-service welfare organisation. G.L. Kristianson, in his 1966 history of the RSL, describes how the League established for itself a unique position in Australian society: "The success of the RSL's pressure group activities has rested in no small way on the organization's connection with the Anzac tradition. Since World War I, this tradition has been the dominant theme in Australian nationalism and its strength has contributed to the Leagues political power". (2) Because of the close relationship the RSL has enjoyed with successive Australian governments for many years, it has to be included as part of the established discourse. Kristianson quotes a Repatriation Minister's reference to the League as "the only public organisation with direct access to the Federal Cabinet". (3) The established discourse, therefore, is in the unique position of having a government and a non-government component working closely together. Each is able to lobby for the other, whether it be for changes to legislation to benefit veterans, or to maintain the status of the DVA in federal budget negotiations.
The second step in describing the established discourse as a discourse according to the Foucault definition is to examine its authorities of delimitation. The DVA has developed a large bureaucracy in order to keep files on all veterans who come to it for help. In addition it has a group of medical and psychiatric practitioners whose responsibility is not only to diagnose illness or injury in the veteran, but also to give an opinion on whether the illness or injury may have been caused by war service. There is also a system, within the Department, for determining claims and appeals, and another for paying pensions. To paraphrase Foucault, these elements together make the DVA "the major authority in society that delimitated, designated, named and established" who could be an eligible veteran, and which disabilities could be determined as war-caused.
The third step in the process is to "analyse the grids of specification". By the late Seventies, the established discourse contained a complex web of specification and exclusion. The legislation was rife with definitions: for example, the legislation was originally written specifically to deal with veterans of the First World War. Each subsequent deployment of defence personnel required a new set of definitions: terms such as "veteran", "active service", "war zone" and many others needed to be redefined. More telling, especially for Vietnam veterans, is the fact that the DVA, with its connections with other departments, especially the Defence Department, held a monopoly on the supply of information valid to the discourse. The determination and appeal process, the medical examination process, and the process of validation of a veterans identity as a veteran, all relied on information held by the Department. The established discourse therefore controlled the power to define veterans, the power to determine their claims, and a monopoly on all information relevant to their claims. The extraordinary position of the RSL, the largest organisation representing veterans while at the same time being closely linked with the government, ensured that the established discourse also had the power to speak for all veterans, including those who had served in Vietnam. This relationship between the RSL and the government presents a clear potential danger for veterans. As Don Aitkin and Brian Jinks point out in "Australian Political Institutions", "Groups that have too close an association with governments, such as the Returned Servicemens League (which virtually had its own minister in the Minister for Repatriation) run the risk of being made captive, and of ceasing to represent those who sponsor or belong to them". (5)
By the time it had been in existence for five decades, the established discourse had begun to act in a manner Foucault would regard as typical of discursive formations. Having begun as a means to serve a need, it grew into a bureaucracy with needs of its own, including the need to define its own boundaries. When the effects of the Vietnam War began to challenge those boundaries in 1979, the response of the established discourse was one Vietnam veterans were able to recognise only too well: set up a defensive position, fortify the perimeter and dig in!
The VVAA was formed as a result of the efforts of a number of Vietnam veterans to find information about the chemical agents to which they had been exposed in Vietnam, and the possible links between those chemicals and a range of illnesses the veterans had noticed in themselves and their children. This question became known as the "Agent Orange issue". (6) If such a link existed, then the veterans were entitled to treatment and disability pensions under the repatriation legislation that existed at the time. The possibility of a link between chemicals used in Vietnam and illness or birth defects in the children of veterans provided a particularly difficult problem. The Act had never anticipated such a link, and a lobbying effort would therefore be required in order to update the legislation. The veterans expected to be able to approach the RSL and the DVA for the help they sought. It was only after those official channels proved not only unhelpful but obstructive, that a new organisation was formed. In 1979, meetings were held in various parts of Australia. The result was the formation of the Vietnam Veterans Action Association. The name change was made the following year when the disparate groups federated to form the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia.
The documents held in the VVAA Collection at the Australian War Memorial Research Centre (see Appendix) illustrate the processes by which the Vietnam veterans who formed the VVAA came to realise that the established discourse was determined to deny them a voice. Graham Walker, in an article in "War: Australia and Vietnam", describes this as "The Process of Disillusion". (7) The documents also show the lengths to which the established discourse was prepared to go to protect its boundaries against the outsiders of the VVAA. The Australian historian Jock McCulloch, in "The Politics of Agent Orange", describes this process as "The Government Blockade". (8)
It may appear unusual that a government department would mount a campaign to deny access to its services to a significant portion of its clientele. In the case of the DVA and the Agent Orange issue, however, there was a wider national and international context. The herbicides and pesticides that had been used in Vietnam were also widely used in Australian agriculture. The agricultural lobby in Australia is a powerful one at any time, with its representation in federal parliament through members of the National (formerly Country) Party. In 1979-80 the Nationals were actually governing in coalition with the Liberals. At the international level, while some fifty thousand Australians may have been exposed to toxic chemicals in Vietnam, the figure in the United States would have been nearer to three million. Any compensation provided by the Australian government may well have been read as an admission of responsibility and as confirmation that a connection exists between the use of chemical herbicides and pesticides in Vietnam and the health problems of Vietnam veterans. Such concessions would certainly have been watched closely by American veterans, and used in claims against their own government. In addition, there was the expectation that the newly unified government of Vietnam was paying close attention to the Agent Orange debate, looking for any sign that compensation might be payable for its potentially millions of victims, not to mention the vast expanses of land which, it could claim, would be unusable for a generation because of the long term effects of defoliation. (9)
From November 1978, questions began to be asked in federal parliament on behalf of Vietnam veterans concerned about the Agent Orange issue. Significantly, in view of the state of public debate earlier in the Seventies, the questions came from members of the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Democrats. These members had earlier been on the side of the anti-war protest movement. Singularly unhelpful answers were provided by members of the government led by Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, who had held the ministries of Defence and Army during the Vietnam years. The first question was put on notice by John Kerin, the Member for Werriwa, and answered by the Minister for Defence, Mr James Killen, on the 20th of February 1979. The answer set a precedent for subsequent government actions to deny information to Vietnam veterans. It was a multiple part question, and the answer contained two significant denials. First: "The Australian Defence Health Services have no documented cases of personnel who have been in contact with Agent Orange." Second: "The Australian Defence Forces did not use Agent Orange in Vietnam, and in these circumstances no comment is offered on the question." (10)
On the 24th of May 1979, Australian Democrat Senator Colin Mason directed a series of questions on notice to the Ministers for Science and Veterans Affairs about 2,4,5-T and Agent Orange, and expressed concern for the effects of these chemicals on Australian Vietnam veterans. Senator Margaret Guilfoyle, acting for the Minister for Veterans Affairs, answered Senator Mason on the 7th of June 1979, by stating that the DVA possessed "no evidence of illness or suspected illness caused by exposure to 2,4,5-T". (11)
On the 27th of March 1980, the Minister for Defence, James Killen, answered a further question from Mr Kerin by saying
"I asked my Department what toxic herbicides were used. It was a simple question, and this is the answer I was given: reglone, grammoxone, tordone and hyva (sic). I do not wish to be disrespectful to the honourable gentleman or indeed the House; but, as far as I personally am concerned in the field of qualifications, they could be four horses running at Rosehill on Saturday". (12) This flippant answer is significant, and not only for the rage it caused among Vietnam veterans who had expected their genuine concerns about the health of their families and themselves to be taken seriously. Its significance extends to discursive theory. In effect, the minister was saying in his answer that the names of the four herbicides were outside his discursive boundaries. As Minister for Defence, he had no need to deal with those names. They belonged in the language of somebody else's discourse.
The VVAA document collection contains a vast amount of information on the herbicides and pesticides used in Vietnam. Much of it demonstrates that the answers given in parliament in 1979-80 were misleading, and that information vital to the claims of Vietnam veterans was being withheld, not only from the veterans themselves, but also from the determining authorities within the DVA. They show clearly that a significant body of medical and scientific opinion existed to create a reasonable hypothesis of a link between chemicals used in Vietnam and human illness. While there may also have been a body of opinion that would dispute that hypothesis, the standard of proof in the Repatriation Act required only that a reasonable hypothesis be established. If such a hypothesis could be established, a veteran's claim had to be granted unless it could be disproved beyond reasonable doubt. The relevant part of the Act was Section 47 (2): "The Commission or a Board shall grant a claim or application, and the Commission shall allow an appeal unless it is satisfied, beyond reasonable doubt, that there are insufficient grounds for granting the claim or allowing the appeal, as the case may be".
An example of the kind of information that was available at the time of the earliest enquiries by Vietnam veterans about chemicals and their effects is an article from the journal "Science", dated November 1969. The article refers to United States Government action on the 26th of October 1969 to curtail the use of 2,4,5-T. The reason given for this action was the results of scientific tests which showed a potential danger of cancer and teratogenic effects. (13) This is a direct contradiction of the answer given in parliament by Senator Guilfoyle, which had denied the existence of "evidence of illness or suspected illness caused by exposure to 2,4,5-T".
As early as 1967, the Medical Journal of Australia published part 5 of its series "Medicine in South Vietnam Today". The author of the article, Alister Brass, described the Australian Task Force base at Nui Dat: "The camp itself has been spread out under the trunks of a large rubber plantation looking rather brown in parts where someone sprayed it with defoliant instead of malathion." (14) Again, despite government denials, the information available clearly shows that herbicides were used on a base occupied by thousands of Australian soldiers. Further evidence is provided by a signal sent from "Army Canberra" to "Austforce Vietnam", dated 3 August 1970, stating that "Responsibility for herbicidal tasks, equipment, methods and training now rests with RAE" (Royal Australian Engineers). (15)
In January 1970, the Secretary for the Department of Defence wrote to his counterpart in the Department of the Army, advising him of literature then available which suggested possible teratogenic effects of 2,4,5-T on humans. This letter was headed "Australian Army usage of 2,4,5-T". (16) This letter clearly demonstrates that documentary evidence existed to prove that the Australian Army had used herbicide 2,4,5-T, and that it had been aware of the danger of long-term health effects. This was fully ten years before the Australian government adopted the official position, in response to VVAA enquiries, that it had "no evidence of illness or suspected illness caused by exposure to 2,4,5-T".
Only in December 1982 did the then Minister for Defence, Ian Sinclair, table in parliament a document entitled "Use of Herbicides and Other Chemicals by the Australian Forces in South Vietnam". (17) This was despite the fact that all of the information provided in the statement had also been available at the time of the earliest questions asked of the previous minister, Mr Killen, in 1979 and 1980. This is extraordinarily significant in the context of the battle between the established discourse and what would later become the VVAA counter-discourse. At all levels of its application and appeals process, the DVA had a clear responsibility to provide all relevant information to the determining authorities. The monopoly of information within its discursive boundaries provided the DVA with enormous power to defend those boundaries. It chose to withhold, or at least not to put a great deal of effort into searching for, information vital to the wellbeing of Vietnam veterans. In so doing, it defined Vietnam veterans as distrusted "outsiders", beyond the boundaries of the established discourse.
The VVAA was not alone in recognising the government's actions as a blockade. The formation of a public voice for Vietnam veterans, and the emergence of the VVAA and the Agent Orange issue, signalled the beginning of a sympathetic approach to Vietnam veterans in the news media. An editorial in the "Australian" in December 1979 asked "Why no action on Agent Orange?" "The Veterans Affairs Department does not want to know about the issue. Nor does the Department of Health. Nor the Department of Defence." (18) The same newspaper used its editorial page in January 1980 to attack the Minister for Veterans Affairs, Mr Adermann, for "bureaucratic obstinacy", saying, "The ministers reluctance to have the matter investigated has borne the earmarks of bureaucratic obstinacy more than the open-mindedness expected of a minister charged with caring for men who have served their country." (19)
The close relationship between the established discourse, its official institutions and the RSL is reflected in the shift of the RSL against supporting Vietnam veterans in their claims. The response of the RSL to the concerns of Vietnam veterans in 1979-80 was initially to sympathise and declare support. On the 2nd of April 1979, the National President of the RSL, Sir William Keys, wrote to a Vietnam veteran, who had approached him for assistance. The veteran, B A Szapiel, had been seeking information on his own possible exposure to toxic chemicals in Vietnam. Keys had shown sufficient interest in Szapiel's case to write to his Commanding Officer in Vietnam, Brigadier Shelton, and his reply to Szapiel certainly showed sympathy: "Brigadier Shelton has confirmed firstly that you were a member of "A Company" of 3RAR, and secondly, that the Battalion and that Company, on numerous occasions passed through areas that had been subjected to spraying by 245T. For the purposes of your application therefore, it can be submitted as evidence that you could have been affected by the spray. This will create a doubt in your favour that the determining authorities must take into account. (20) Just a few weeks earlier, Sir William Keys had received advice from the RSL National Solicitor, Mr J D Button, that, "The evidence in Australia and disclosed in the papers received from New York, can only be described as overwhelming circumstantial evidence that chemicals have affected veterans and/or their dependants. The supporting medical and scientific evidence tends to support the circumstantial evidence and is strong". (21) The last sentence of the letter from Keys to Szapiel demonstrates that the RSL National President clearly understood the significance of Button's advice as it related to the onus of proof provision in Section 47 of the Repatriation Act. This information, held by the RSL, should have been a powerful weapon for Vietnam veterans in their dealings with the DVA.
Within a short time however, the support of the RSL turned to open hostility, leaving Vietnam veterans to wonder what could possibly have happened to cause such a transformation. So strongly had the leadership of the RSL turned against the VVAA, that a special meeting of the RSL National Executive, held on the 7th of September 1980, passed a resolution that "the RSL (its Branches or Sub-Branches) shall not provide any further assistance financially to any Vietnam veteran or dependant without the express permission of the National Executive". (22) The status of Vietnam veterans as mistrusted "outsiders", a threat to the established discourse and its institutions, could not have been more clear.
Neither Jock McCulloch, in "The Politics of Agent Orange", nor Graham Walker in his contribution to "War: Australia and Vietnam", can explain with any certainty what caused this remarkable turnaround in the attitude of the RSL leadership, nor does the VVAA document collection contain any clear evidence. McCulloch does offer his opinion that the RSL became "concerned that the issue could bring about a rift between itself and the conservative forces in Australian Society". (23) In other words, the RSL was more concerned with maintaining its position as a part of the established discourse than with fighting the battles of a group of Vietnam veterans who remained outside the boundaries of the discourse.
McCulloch raises two other possible explanations for the hostility of the RSL leadership. The first suggestion is a generation gap between the RSL and the younger Vietnam veterans. The second is the possibility that, as self-appointed guardians of the Anzac tradition, RSL leaders may have felt that Vietnam veterans were visible reminders of a war which did not live up to their idealised image of that tradition. (24) If this was the case, Vietnam veterans may have represented a threat to dominant notions of Australian nationalism, and therefore their own privileged position.
It is a feature of discourse theory that a counter-discourse frequently retains certain characteristics of the discourse it is attempting to displace. That is certainly true of the VVAA. Like the RSL, the VVAA was formed as a welfare organisation for veterans within the repatriation system, and a lobbying organisation for reform of Veterans Affairs legislation.
One form of protest used by the VVAA in its lobbying efforts was highly significant for what it said about the VVAA as a counter-discourse. By the early eighties, VVAA members were distributing pieces of orange ribbon to Vietnam veterans marching in Anzac parades in Australia's major cities. The veterans wore the ribbons next to their medals to symbolize their solidarity on the Agent Orange issue. The Anzac Day parade is the major annual symbolic event of the established discourse. The RSL's self-appointed guardianship of the Anzac tradition, which includes the responsibility of organising Anzac Day parades, is one of the most important elements in its identity and its ongoing relevance. Medals worn on conservative suits are the uniform of this major symbolic event. By infiltrating a small piece of orange ribbon into that uniform, the VVAA was making a number of points. It was demonstrating that Vietnam veterans belonged in the Anzac Day parade and had as much right as any veteran to take part in the activities of the established discourse. On the other hand, it was making the point that one single issue was keeping them on the outside. By wearing the ribbon they were openly declaring their difference. By wearing the ribbon while participating in the major ritual of the established discourse they were declaring that, as a condition of their acceptance of that discourse, they were determined to bring their difference with them.
The counter-discursive nature of the VVAA is demonstrated by the repeated assertions by early VVAA leaders that their organisation would not have needed to exist had the established discourse been more flexible in their response to the Agent Orange issue. The veterans would have been more comfortable fighting their battles from within the RSL than standing alone outside the fortress walls. For example, on the 20th of December 1979, the Age reported, under the heading "Veteran to set up RSL rival group",
"Mr Holt McMinn, 34, yesterday said the World War II veterans who ran the RSL were not interested in men who fought in Vietnam and were siding with the Government's decision not to hold an inquiry into the effects of the defoliant called Agent Orange". (25) On the 5th of January 1980, the Melbourne "Herald" reported that "Victorian VVAA president Mr Bernard Szapiel said the movement had started because of the Returned Services Leagues inactivity". (26) A briefing note released in February 1980 by the then VVAA President, Mr Holt McMinn, states, "The Vietnam Veterans Action Association (a national body) was formed purely because of the concern of large numbers of Vietnam veterans that the RSL was (a) not representing them properly, and (b) too close to the Government to make an independent assessment of the veterans' case". (27) Graham Walker came to the same conclusion: "If the Australian Government had acted quickly and with more regard for humanity than power, and if the institutions of the RSL and the Department of Veterans Affairs had been able to adapt easily to differences between wars and generations, then the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia would not have been necessary and might never have been formed". (28)
It is quite conceivable that, had it been willing to give up its advocacy of the chemical issue, the VVAA may well have found a place within the established discourse. In the early Eighties, it became apparent that there was some similarity between many of the symptoms Vietnam veterans suspected could have been caused by exposure to toxic chemicals, and the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD had gained its official recognition in the medical discourse in 1980. (29) The similarity of the symptoms was noted in the final report of the Royal Commission into the Use and Effects of Chemical Agents on Australian Personnel in Vietnam in 1985. (30) Following this recognition, the DVA changed its attitude to the claims of some Vietnam veterans. It began accepting some symptoms as war-caused, but only on the grounds that the veterans were suffering from the effects of PTSD, rather than from exposure to chemicals. PTSD was "in", Agent Orange was "out". PTSD was much easier to accept and to deal with, since it clearly met the criteria for an illness caused by traditional and recognisable combat conditions. It was an illness sustained by diggers doing their duty in the Anzac tradition. It was an "honourable" illness, recognisable as something akin to the "shell-shock" suffered by veterans of previous wars. The emergence of PTSD enabled the established discourse to do its duty in terms of dealing with war-caused disabilities, while ensuring that the effects of herbicides and pesticides would remain outside its discursive boundaries. Thus its power to determine and define those boundaries remained intact and the VVAA remained on the outside.
The Agent Orange issue provided Vietnam veterans with a cause of their own. The issue did not, however, appear in a vacuum. It had a background history on which to build. There is a touch of irony in the fact that the environmental movement, an element of the New Left that had played a part in the silencing of Vietnam veterans earlier in the Seventies, was crucial in the creation of a "space" in which a new discourse could emerge in competition with the established discourse. The environmental and health effects of herbicides and pesticides had become an issue in Australia before the existence of Agent Orange became known here. (31) Ever since the publication of Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" (32) in the early 1960s, which alerted the world to the dangers of agricultural chemicals, the environmental movement had become increasingly vigilant. The House of Representatives and Senate Hansards show that a series of questions had been asked throughout 1978 and 1979 about various aspects of the use and effects of 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D in Australian agriculture.
It should also be remembered that that majority of Vietnam veterans belonged to the generation that came of age in the sixties. With the notable exception of tertiary education, they tended to be exposed to the same influences as those who became involved in the anti-war protest movement. Between combat operations, in the base camps at Nui Dat and Vung Tau, transistor radios would be tuned in to the American Armed Forces Vietnam Network, which played the very same rock 'n' roll music the remainder of their generation was listening to back home. Many would grow their hair fashionably long as soon as their military service was over. It follows logically that many would also share with those who opposed the war the same attitudes of mistrust of authority, and the same questioning of the values of the previous generation. When they found themselves confronted with a bureaucratic brick wall on an issue of great importance to their own well being, it is not surprising that they would react by forming a protest movement of their own.
To return to Foucault, two scholars of his work, Mario Moussa and Ron Scapp, could almost have had the VVAA in mind when they wrote recently, "When ... the formerly voiceless begin to speak a language of their own making a counterdiscourse they have begun to resist the power seeking to oppress them". (33)
In the 1970s, Australian Vietnam veterans confronted their exclusion from the very institutions created to benefit war veterans. Agent Orange gave them an issue around which they could mobilise. The determined resistance to this issue by the combined forces of the DVA and the RSL created the momentum for the formerly voiceless Vietnam veterans to find a public voice and a language of their own making. The impact of this voice in the public debate would be felt into the next decade and beyond.
1. Michel Foucault, "The Archaeology of Knowledge", (A M Sheridan Smith trans.), London, Tavistock, 1972, pp. 40-49.
2. G L Kristianson, "The Politics of Patriotism: The Pressure Group Activities of the Returned Servicemens League", Canberra, ANU Press, 1966, p. 227.
3. The then Repatriation Minister, R W C Swartz, in the "Queensland Times", 4 March 1963, cited in ibid., p.105.
4. Foucault, "The Archaeology of Knowledge", 1972, p. 41.
5. Don Aitkin & Brian Jinks, "Australian Political Institutions", South Melbourne, Pitman, 1986, p.110.
6. Phenoxyacetic herbicides used in Vietnam were known by the name of the coloured band around the drums in which they were stored; hence, Agent White, Agent Blue, Agent Orange, Agent Purple. The herbicide known as Agent Orange was a 50/50 mixture of the n-butyl esters of 2,4,5 trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4,5-T) and 2,4 dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D). It contained the contaminant 2,3,7,8 tetrachlorodibenzo-para-dioxin (TCDD or dioxin). Many other herbicides and pesticides were used in Vietnam. In the public discourse "Agent Orange" became the generic name for the whole range of chemicals used in Vietnam, and the issue of a possible link between those chemicals and the health of Vietnam veterans and their children became known as the Agent Orange issue.
7. This is a sub-heading for the section describing these events in an article by Graham Walker, "The Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia", in Kenneth Maddock & Barry Wright (eds.), "War: Australia and Vietnam", Sydney, Harper & Row, 1987, p.206. Graham Walker is a retired army officer, a Vietnam veteran, and was an active member of the VVAA when he wrote this article.
8. This is a sub-heading for the section in which Jock McCulloch describes these events in "The Politics of Agent Orange: The Australian Experience", Richmond, Vic., Heinemann, 1984, pp.171-193.
9. These issues became known to the VVAA leadership, myself included, later in the 1980s. American veterans sought compensation through the law courts, while the Vietnamese government used the issue of defoliation as a bargaining chip during diplomatic negotiations over the search for US servicemen who were still listed as missing in action.
10. Defence Minister James Killen, 20 February 1979, "Parliamentary Debates (Hansard)", House of Representatives 1979, Volume H of R 113, p.155.
11. Senator Guilfoyle, 7 June 1979, "Parliamentary Debates (Hansard)", Senate 1979, Vol. S81, p.2912.
12. Defence Minister James Killen, 27 March 1980, "Parliamentary Debates (Hansard)", House of Representatives 1980, Vol. H of R 117, pp.1311-12. The correct spelling of "hyva" is hyvar.
13. "Science", Vol. 166, November 1969, pp.977-979, Holding Papers, folio 199, VVAA Collection, AWM PR87/163.
14. Alister Brass, "Vung Tau - Australian troops, American helicopters and Sydney doctors", part 5 of the series entitled "Medicine in South Vietnam Today", "Medical Journal of Australia", 26 March 1967, pp.614-621, Holding Papers, folio 295, VVAA Collection, AWM PR87/163.
15. Signal from "Army Canberra" to "Austforce Vietnam", numbered 35716, 3 August 1970, signed D J Galvin, Maj., G2NBC, Holding Papers, folio 13, VVAA Collection, AWM PR87/163.
16. Letter signed H A Wills, for Secretary, Department of Defence, to Secretary, Department of the Army, 13 January 1970, Holding Papers, folio 20, VVAA Collection, AWM PR87/163.
17. "Use of Herbicides and Other Chemicals by the Australian Forces in South Vietnam", a document tabled by the Minister for Defence, Ian Sinclair, in the House of Representatives, December 1982, Holding Papers, folio 281, VVAA Collection, AWM PR87/163.
18. Editorial, "The Australian", 19 December 1979, (page number not legible), VVAA General Files, Box 86, folio 34, VVAA Collection, AWM PR87/163.
19. Editorial, "The Australian", 8 January 1980 (page number not legible), VVAA General Files, Box 86, folio number illegible, but believed to be 70, VVAA Collection, AWM PR87/163.
20. Letter from RSL President Keys, to B A Szapiel, 2 April 1979, Holding Papers, folio 257, VVAA Collection, AWM PR87/163. I should mention that I served in the same battalion as Bernie Szapiel, and served for several months as radio operator for the then Lieutenant Colonel Shelton.
21. Letter from RSL National Solicitor Mr J D Button to RSL National President Sir William Keys, 26 March 1980, photocopy in "Debrief", national journal of the VVAA, Vol. 3, No. 15, December 1982, p.24.
22. "RSL National News Digest", September 1980, VVAA General Files, Box 88, folder entitled RSL State and Sub-Branches Correspondence, VVAA Collection, AWM 87/163.
23. McCulloch, "The Politics of Agent Orange", 1984, p.196.
24. Ibid., p.155.
25. "Veteran to set up RSL rival group", "The Age", 20 December 1979, VVAA General Files, Box 86, folio 37, VVAA Collection, AWM 87/163.
26. "Herald", 5 January 1980, VVAA General Files, Box 86, between folios 55 and 56, VVAA Collection, AWM PR87/163.
27. "VVAA briefing note on Agent Orange", dated 28th February 1980, from a folder entitled Presentations and Speeches Part 1 (this folder has no folio numbers), in VVAA General Files, Box 86, VVAA Collection, AWM 87/163.
28. Graham Walker, "The Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia", 1987, p.228.
29. The official recognition of PTSD came with its inclusion in the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Edition III" (DSMIII), Washington DC, American Psychiatric Association, 1980.
30. Royal Commission on the Use and Effects of Chemical Agents on Australian Personnel in Vietnam, "The Mental Health and Well Being of Veterans and their Spouses", Chapter IX, "Conclusions, Recommendations and Epilogue", Vol 8, Final Report, July 1985, pp.XV-23 to XV-26.
31. See the extended discussion in McCulloch, "The Politics of Agent Orange", 1984, pp.145-169.
32. Rachel Carson, "Silent Spring", London, Hamish Hamilton, 1963.
33. Mario Moussa & Ron Scapp, "The Practical Theorizing of Michel Foucault: Politics and Counter-Discourse", "Cultural Critique", Vol. 33, 1996, p.87.