Avoid Mistakes Of Vietnam And Back Our Troops

Avoid Mistakes Of Vietnam And Back Our Troops

Natasha Griggs MHR for Solomon

Griggs Enters Afghanistan Debate: Calls To Avoid Vietnam Stigma & Urges More Family Support

Victor P Taffa

Our troops want to know that the Australian community support them and we need to explore the possible extension of the Defence School Transition Aid programme which assists students whose parents are serving overseas, the Member for Solomon, Natasha Griggs said during the Federal Parliament debate on Afghanistan today


“I have spoken to the Shadow Minister for Defence Science, Technology and Personnel who has undertaken to meet with the Defence Community Organisation and discuss options to expand the programme.” Mrs. Griggs said.

Mrs. Griggs said we cannot afford to have a situation unfold like it did following Vietnam where men and women sent to do a job were then treated so poorly by a large chunk of Australian society on their return.

“I for one would be sickened if as a result of this debate we suddenly saw our men and women of the defence force wearing the brunt of public criticism. We must proceed with extreme caution in how we set about portraying the need for this conflict.” Mrs. Griggs said.

“God help us should the troops who serve in Afghanistan suffer the same type of indignity that those who served in Vietnam had to endure on their return. By all means question the need for our involvement but do it in such a way that removes the emotional rhetoric.”

Mrs. Griggs said she had recently visited both NORCOM at Larrakeyah and 1st Brigade at Robertson Barracks. She said our defence force presence in Afghanistan is substantial and it has been since the conflict first began, currently we have a number of troop deployments in the Uruzgan province.

She said the young men and women, who join our defence forces’ today, know that there is a strong likelihood that they will be deploying for warlike conflict and peace keeping missions.

“They are making the choice based on what can only be described as the right humanitarian desire to help other countries in particular the people of Afghanistan to experience what we take for granted in this country, and that is democracy.” Mrs. Griggs said.

Mrs. Griggs said from my briefings I understand that our troops are comfortable with the current Mission Objective of mentoring. They feel they are properly equipped for such a role.

“But they hasten to add that if the Mission Objective changes then the level of logistics needs to be re-evaluated,” she said. “Where there are levels of concerns it relates directly to the level of support when our troops return from Afghanistan.”

Mrs. Griggs said at present when our troops return they are required to go to Brisbane to be debriefed or rehabilitated depending on what is needed.

“In the seat of Solomon we don’t have the adequate resourcing to support our troops. And that is a major concern,” she said. “If we were to adopt the role of debrief and rehabilitation in Solomon then we would use all available counsellors in Solomon and that has further implication in itself!” Mrs. Griggs said.

“Sadly as this mission continues I don’t think I am speaking out of turn by suggesting that there is a possibility of more casualties and heaven forbid even more fatalities. Both our Leaders have indicated we will be in Afghanistan for some time yet so it stands to reason this may be the case.”

“It is an unintended consequence that by sending troops off to Brisbane for debriefing and rehabilitation that we are in fact delaying their return to their families in the Top End. I would like there to be more support for our troops and their families in the form of counsellors during and on return from deployments.” Mrs. Griggs said.