Vietnam Veterans Celebrated with Open Arms 40th Anniversary

Open Arms - Veterans and Families Counselling has provided mental health support to Australian Defence Force personnel and their immediate families for over 40 years. Founded by veterans for veterans as the Vietnam Veterans Counselling Service, the nationally accredited mental health service aims to improve the lives of those who have served by offering military-aware and trauma-informed care while breaking down barriers.

Earlier this week, the Canberra Open Arms office celebrated 40 years since it opened its doors, and the anniversary has led many to reflect on the role Vietnam veterans played in establishing the service.

Assistant Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Matt Thistlethwaite, met with several Vietnam veterans and expressed his gratitude to the Vietnam veterans who were instrumental in advocating for this vital mental health service.

“We are thankful that these veterans and families fought for this vital service, which today helps so many,” Minister Thistlethwaite said.

The anniversary occurs amidst a sensitive time for many in the veteran community. Ongoing media coverage of veteran issues has brought up a range of emotions for current and former military personnel and their families. During times like these, the importance of a dedicated, military aware support service for veterans and veteran families is essential. With over 161,000 services delivered in this financial year alone, Open Arms continues to provide vital support to more than 34,000 veterans and their families.

Alongside the 40th anniversary of the Canberra office of Open Arms, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the end of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War. The nation commemorates the sacrifices made by those who served, and Open Arms plays a significant role in preserving their enduring legacy.

Minister Thistlethwaite emphasised that the veteran community, whether veterans themselves or family members, should take pride in Open Arms.

“Open Arms embodies the mateship and selflessness of the veteran community. The military-aware and trauma-informed service that Open Arms provides is here for anyone who has served one day in the ADF, and their immediate family,” he said.

As Open Arms continues to expand its reach and support, it is a testament to the resilience and dedication of Vietnam veterans who fought for the establishment of this critical mental health service. The Australian government remains committed to providing comprehensive support to veterans and their families, ensuring that their sacrifices are never forgotten.

With over 35 centres across the country, Open Arms has become an invaluable resource for veterans in need of mental health assistance.

If you’re looking for counselling and support services for yourself, or your immediate family, you can call Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling 24/7 on 1800 011 046 for free and confidential advice.