Vietnam Medal.

For some years people have campaigned for a change in the criteria of length of service in the country for the award of the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, a foreign award. The criteria set by the then Government of the Republic of Vietnam is six months of service in country unless KIA, RTA as a result of injuries while on operations, (including mental health issues due to operations), or being a POW and subsequently released. Note that RTA of a service person in less than 181 days for injuries or mental health issues not caused by operations does not meet the criteria.

In 2013 an Inquiry was held by the Defence Honours and Awards Tribunal (DHAAT) into the above matter as a result of requests for change, especially change to the period of service, ie a reduction of the 181 days to a lower period. At the time the policy of the VVAA was to oppose such a change and a submission was made to the DHAAT on that basis. The outcome of the inquiry was that the Tribunal found that the Australian government had no legal power to change the time criteria set by the government of the Republic of Vietnam.

As a result of further claims, a second DHAAT inquiry was held in 2015 with a focus on reducing the 181-day period and its conditions. Amongst other matters, some submissions queried the decision by the Government to set 181 days as the period, rather than six months as set by the Vietnamese Government – suggestions as low as two months were made. The period of 181 days and other criteria were upheld and the Tribunal again noted, on legal advice, that the Australian Government had no legal power to alter the criteria set by the Vietnamese Government.

The Defence Honours and Awards website specifically notes that, for this foreign award, there have been two DHAAT inquiries into this matter and their outcomes. The website also notes that the Australian government has “no intention for a further review”.

What was not addressed was that there were members of the permanent forces whose tours of duty were cut short of 181 days, eg, due to the withdrawal of Australian forces from the Republic of Vietnam, however, the position of the Australian Government is quite clear.



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  • john schotte March 26, 2023  

    regarding the vietnam campaign medal it seems that after all these years that RICHARD BARRY has been wasting his time and effort to get this medal .Being a returned service man myself and had spent less than 181 days in vietnam i am really disappointed of the outcome.I was a national service man and my time was up before the 181 days so i didn’t qualify.

  • Ron Woolfe March 26, 2023  

    It is interesting that the Medal can be awarded for mental issues. What about the mental issues being experienced for the last 50 years. We had no say on when we went or when we returned. At no stage were we informed we had to serve 181 days. Think about the diggers who served 167 days or 14 days short. It is a joke we are still treated as Vietnam Veterans by D V A but not the government. I fully support Richard Barry in his submissions.

  • Keith March 27, 2023  

    I agree that for those who didn’t complete the required time in Vietnam to qualify for the medal have good reason to feel aggrieved but unfortunately they were the rules at the time. But I also believe that any further requests to change the criteria are futile based on Law. Fellow veterans know you served by the medals you wear, by not having that medal does not reduce your contribution, we know and that is all that matters.

  • Robert Dean March 27, 2023  

    Perhaps some will remember the constant number of “fly in fly out” personnel who “visited” Vietnam during those years purely to be eligible for the minimum service of 30 days so they had access to “War Service Home Loans” on their return to Australia.
    Don’t know if similar experience in later declared war zones.
    It was always clear that the time for his medal was as outlined – 6 months etc. and i agree that anyone with less than that due to expiry of their service time does not diminish their service one way or the other.
    Bit like being ‘accidently wounded’ during a mortar fire mission on suspected enemy positions not being considered as WIA – like me when a mortar round prematurely exploded on exit from the barrel and I copped the shrapnel and was Medivac home. My Army records show WIA!

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