National Vietnam Veterans Museum

Most people will travel to Phillip Island to view the cute penguins that the area has become famed for. However, there’s another attraction that you should be visiting in this region too. The National Vietnam Veterans Museum is right at the very beginning of the turn off to go to the Phillip Island in the aptly named Veterans Drive. First opened in 2007, the museum is operated by veterans and their families who saw the need for a home to display the touring collections of artefacts from the war that they had received either through donation or commercially. The museum’s mission is for the visitor to understand the experiences of the veterans during the Vietnam war and its impact on society in Australia. It is now operated by a group of 70 strong volunteers who take care of the conservation of the collections and educating guests.

The Collection in National Vietnam Veterans Museum

The museum is the largest of its kind in the country and features interactive touch screens, vehicles and important aircraft used during the war, and the ballot balls that caused a major rift in Australian society. The artefacts, which have been collected over a period of 20 years, now call four galleries inside the museum home; The Remember and Valour, Air, Ground and Sea Operations. Themed exhibitions that change regularly are also on display, as well as a sound and light show. The museum also has its own café called Nui Dat, the name of the area that most Australian personnel would have called home during their time in Vietnam.

The museum also features an honour wall of the 521 soldiers and a female nurse who perished during the war, giving recognition and a time of reflection for these lost souls. Apart from museum operations, another initiative they undertake is Operation Wandering Souls. This program resolves to give families in Vietnam any items that were taken or recovered from the bodies of Vietnam soldiers by Australian and New Zealand soldiers.

Vietnam War and Australia

Between 1962 and 1975, tensions between what was then North and South Vietnam were reaching an all-time high. The U.S.A was South Vietnam’s strongest ally however the televised events of the war changed many American citizens minds about if their troops should be there fighting. Many anti-war protests began, and Australian citizens soon followed suit after 60,000 of their men were sent to fight. A protest of 200,000 people saw people lining the streets in the early 1970s protesting the involvement and killing of innocent Vietnamese civilians who had been caught in the crossfire. After the U.S.A took their troops out of Vietnam, some Australians stayed behind to help the refugees of the city. Many Australian soldiers suffered from PTSD and other mental health issues after witnessing the atrocities they had seen, which is the reason that the men are honoured at the National Vietnam Veterans Museum.

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