You are here

Service in Vietnam

Document
Introduction

This topic covers the requirements for operational service and qualifying service in the Vietnam hostilities, as well as the recognised periods of service before and after Australia's involvement in the hostilities.    

Qualifying service

To have qualifying service for a service pension a Vietnam veteran must have:

Operational service

To have operational service for a disability pension, a Vietnam veteran must have:

  • been allotted for duty in an operational area either individually or as a member of a unit, and
  • served in the operational area to which the person was allotted.
Operational service - January 1962

Before the commencement of Australia's operational involvement in Vietnam, the HMAS Vampire and HMAS Quickmatch visited Saigon on 25-29 January 1962. The period of the visit is classified as operational service but not qualifying service.    

More ?

History Library - Units Allotted for Operational Service

P1/C5/S3

More ? (go back)

Service after 11 January 1973

Australia's operational presence in Vietnam officially ended on 11 January 1973. Following this date:

  • the Australian Embassy Guard Platoon served until mid 1973, and
  • RAAF personnel were operating in the months leading to the fall of Saigon.

Members of the defence force who served in Vietnam from 12 January 1973 to 29 April 1975 have warlike service and consequently operational and qualifying service.

Taken to have been allotted for duty

The determinations made to date cover the following members of the Defence Force:

  • the crews of RAN ships involved in transporting troops and other support duties;
  • members of the Defence Force who visited the area for the purpose of:
  • staff visits,
  • inspections,
  • public relations,
  • familiarisation,
  • welfare visits,
  • attache duties;
  • members of the RAN who crewed the MV JEPARIT;
  • members of various RAAF units;
  • aircrew of the Australian Air Force Detachment, Sangley Point;
  • specified members of the RAN Reserve. (not allotted for duty in an operational area)

Among the Defence Personnel providing welfare services were members of the various military bands.

The service documents of these people should indicate that they have been deemed to be on full-time service and/or deemed to be allotted for duty in an operational service. If there is any discrepancy between what the claimant is contending and the official records, further advice should be obtained from the relevant service.

Philanthropic Organisations

Determinations have been made in respect of representatives of the following approved philanthropic organisations, who provided welfare services to the Defence Force, that they were members of the Defence Force rendering continuous full-time service in an operational area:

  • the Australian Red Cross Society;
  • the Campaigners for Christ - Everyman's Welfare Service;
  • the Salvation Army;
  • the Young Women's Christian Association of Australia;
  • the Young Men's Christian Association of Australia;
  • the Australian Forces Overseas Fund.

If claims are received from any of these, full details of the service should be obtained from the claimant. It may be necessary to verify the situation with the Soldier Career Management Agency.     

More ?

Requirement for Continuous Full-time Service

Section 1.2.3

More ? (go back)

Civilians not covered

Compensation benefits for civilians in Vietnam is determined solely on the basis of their employment. For example, medical and surgical teams provided under a SEATO aid program were given salary, travel expenses and accommodation by the Australian Government and were subject to general Public Service terms and conditions of employment. They and other civilians employed by the Australian Government but who did not serve directly in support of the Defence Force in Vietnam are covered by the Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRCA).

Official entertainers' who toured Vietnam under the auspices of the Australian Defence Force are not covered under the VEA. However, depending on the terms of their contracts, they may have coverage under the SRCA.

Independent concert parties or entertainers are not covered under either Act. Nor are journalists working for Australian newspapers or Australians working as civilians for the US Army.


Operational service is generally service performed:

  • outside Australia,
  • during war like operations in which Australian Defence Forces were involved, and
  • in areas where the incurred level of risk is considered above that of normal peacetime conditions.

Refer to section 6 of the VEA through to 6F of the VEA for a full explanation of operational service.

Qualifying service is one of the criteria used to determine eligibility for certain benefits under the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986. Refer to section 7A of the VEA for the full defintion.

 

 

A service pension is an income support payment broadly equivalent to the social security age and disability support pensions. It may be paid once a veteran or partner has reached the nominated age or is incapacitated for work.

For the purposes of determining a person's eligibility for entitlements under the VEA, being allotted for duty in an operational area (schedule 2 VEA refers) is a reference to a person or unit of the Defence Force, that is allotted for duty by written instrument issued by the:

  • Defence Force,
  • Vice Chief of the Defence Force, or
  • Minister for Defence (deemed allotted subsection 5R(1) refers) Allotment may be retrospective or prospective.

Disability pension, for the purposes of service pension and income support supplement, means:

  • a pension paid for incapacity from war caused conditions, or peacetime, peacekeeping or hazardous service caused conditions (other than a war widow's or orphan's pension); or
  • temporary incapacity allowance; or
  • any other payment in respect of incapacity or death resulting from war or war-like operations in which the Crown has been engaged [usually paid by another Commonwealth country].

For the purposes of determining a person's eligibility for entitlements under the VEA, being allotted for duty in an operational area (schedule 2 VEA refers) is a reference to a person or unit of the Defence Force, that is allotted for duty by written instrument issued by the:

  • Defence Force,
  • Vice Chief of the Defence Force, or
  • Minister for Defence (deemed allotted subsection 5R(1) refers) Allotment may be retrospective or prospective.