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Media Releases 19 Aug 2021

RSL says Veterans must be praised for Afghanistan service

Australia’s peak veterans’ organisation, the Returned & Services League of Australia (RSL), says Australian military personnel must be praised for their service in Afghanistan.

RSL National President Greg Melick said Australia’s military personnel did a magnificent job in war-torn Afghanistan. They were respected by our allies and feared by our foes.

“In withdrawing, Australia had no choice but to follow the lead of the United States. We could not go it alone and it would be foolhardy to stay in the country when the US and the major allies had withdrawn. It is premature, counter-productive and heartless to say our people died and/or suffered in vain, particularly as the living conditions of many Afghans were improved over the past 20 years.

“This includes education facilities and services, treatment of women and improved infrastructure and we can only hope that the repressive past policies of the Taliban will be moderated.”

Greg Melick said Australia had a moral obligation to extract and accept as many of those and their families who had assisted Australian Defence forces and Embassy officials during the deployment in Afghanistan.

“It must do this as soon as and safely as possible. These people provided invaluable service to Australians posted to Afghanistan and we have an obligation to help them,” he said.

“The Government must also improve its communication processes and better inform the public about what it is doing and has done in the past, to extricate those who assisted us.

“As well, all of us must locate and reach out to those who may be affected, and support services must be sufficient to enable timely intervention.

“Many of our service personnel who served in Afghanistan and other Middle East theatres will be deeply impacted by the latest events on the ground there and we need to understand and appreciate the effect on our veterans of those operations.

“The RSL is providing its support and are asking all Australians to recognise the contribution of our veterans and show their understanding, care, and support for the service they provided.”

Greg Melick said he had made similar comments yesterday at a roundtable meeting of ex-service organisations with the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Andrew Gee MP.

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