Independent history of Vietnam War medical legacies is under way

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Work has commenced on an independent history that will document and analyse the medical legacies of the Vietnam War.

The volume, commissioned by the Council of the Australian War Memorial, will be written by Dr Peter Yule, a research fellow at the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne.

Dr Yule said the new volume would examine the complete range of medical issues experienced by Australian veterans, with particular focus on post-traumatic stress disorder and the health effects of exposure to herbicides.

Dr Yule also said that it is essential to find out about the health concerns of veterans by talking with the veterans themselves. He emphasised that the voice of the veterans must be heard.

Director of the Australian War Memorial Dr Brendan Nelson said the history would be informed by 30 years of new knowledge and interviews with Vietnam War veterans.

“This important project will enable greater understanding of the implications for those Australians who served in the Vietnam War.

We cannot rewrite history, but a generation on, informed by new knowledge and a deeper understanding, we can bring a sense of informed justice and meaning to veterans still suffering.”

He added that the Memorial has a strong reputation for producing authoritative histories.

“Dr Yule brings a level of academic rigour that a project like this deserves. His work as an independent historian is extensive, and he has written or edited some 19 books as well as numerous articles and other publications,” said Dr Nelson. 

During the four-year project, Dr Yule and a team of researchers will undertake interviews with a wide cross-section of Vietnam veterans.

Existing research and medical studies will also be reviewed as part of the project.

The final manuscript is expected to be completed by the end of 2019, with publication planned for 2020.

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