For many Vietnam War veterans, they have continued to fight other battles long after the war ended; battling stigma, phsyical and mental health issues and a quest to be listened to and believed.
A new book commissioned by the Australian War Memorial sheds a light on the ongoing challenges faced by Vietnam War veterans.
The Long Shadow: Australia's Vietnam Veterans Since the War is the result of four years worth of research by author Dr Peter Yule, a research fellow at the University of Melbourne's School of Historical and Philosophical Studies. The AWM was able to fund the research and publication through a bequest.
The book is informed by interviews Dr Yule had with veterans themselves. It focuses primarily on health challenges faced by Vietnam veterans, including the effects of biological weapons such as Agent Orange, and mental illness including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
"PTSD as a psychiatric diagnosis arose out of the treatment of Vietnam veterans," Dr Yule said.
"There was nothing to explain war trauma in any way at all so kids [returned] home from the war clearly traumatised ... but psychiatrists had no way of dealing with them, they didn't understand what the issues were."
Dr Yule said the focus on post-war experiences of veterans offers a different perspective to the majority of history books which focus on events during wartime.
"The critical thing is that Vietnam was different - it more or less had a lasting effect on the lives of the people who [fought]," Dr Yule said.
"Vietnam veterans face different challenges than veterans of earlier wars."
Dr Yule said unlike Veterans from WW1 and WW2, Vietnam veterans did not have a victorious return to adoring civilians in Australia, with veterans baring the brunt of the backlash against Australia's decision to go to war.
"These poor guys sacrificed their lives, lost friends in battle, and people back here [said], you know, it was all a mistake and you shouldn't have been here," Dr Yule said.
"And of course, we lost the war."
Australian War Memorial director Matt Anderson said the new book demystifies the experience of Vietnam veterans.
"This medical history lays to rest some of the misconceptions and establishes for the first time an accurate picture of the health of Vietnam veterans," Mr Anderson said.
"Many veterans believe that their service and sacrifice were never properly recognised and that their health problems were ignored, trivialised or denied altogether.
"This book provides a way to share those experiences from a veteran perspective."
Dr Yule said after four years of research he was struck by the strength and camaraderie of the veterans he interviewed, and has been touched by the early feedback he has received from veterans.
"I have nothing but admiration for them. They went through hell and most of them have been severely damaged," he said.
"They get on with it to the best of their ability."
- The Long Shadow is now available to purchase at bookstores and at the Australian War Memorial shop.