The Secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA), Simon Lewis PSM, today paid tribute to the young men who took part in the National Service scheme. “Today, National Servicemen’s Day, we recognise and remember the service and sacrifice of thousands of men who were called upon for National Service,” Mr Lewis said.
Australia has seen four periods of compulsory military service, with the last two schemes, 1951–1959 and 1964–1972, seeing tens of thousands of National Servicemen, or ‘Nashos’ serve our nation.
Under the National Service Act 1951, all young men turning 18 on or after 1 November 1950 were required to register for the scheme. For those who went into the Navy or Air Force this meant a commitment of 176 days standard recruit training. For the majority, who went into the Army, it meant a period of 98 days in the Regular Army followed by 78 days in the Citizen Military Forces. National Servicemen were then required to remain in the Reserve for five years. “More than 33,000 men trained annually in the Army, Navy or Air Force during the period 1951–1957, after which the yearly intake fell to 12,000 before the scheme was discontinued in 1959,” Mr Lewis said.
The last National Service Scheme was introduced in 1964 in response to Australia’s growing involvement in South East Asia. “From 1964 to 1972, men aged 20 years or older were required to register with the Department of Labour and National Service. A draw, known as the ‘birthday ballot’ then determined which men would be called up for service,” Mr Lewis said. “More than 804,000 men registered during the period 1964–72, of whom more than 63,000 were called up to serve in the Army. “The National Service scheme ended in December 1972 following the withdrawal of troops from Vietnam.
“Nashos are an important part of our military history and Australia owes a great debt to these men who underwent training and served our nation, many on foreign soil. “I would encourage all Australians to reflect on the efforts of these men and ensure their sacrifices are not forgotten,” Mr Lewis said.
Read about The National Servicemen’s Association here
Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free and confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 4546)