From: Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Mailing List
Sent: Tue 14/02/2012 12:55 PM


Australians are being asked to take a moment to reflect on the great contribution made by more than 280,000 young men who were called up for national service between 1951 and 1972.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Warren Snowdon, said national servicemen registered for compulsory military service to help strengthen Australia’s defence forces, during fragile periods in international politics, many were just over 18 years old.

“Each year on 14 February, we observe National Service Day, and honour the courage and fortitude displayed by these men, when they were called up to serve.

“Between 1951 and 1972 more than 20,000 national servicemen, or ‘Nashos’ as they are known, fulfilled their duties with distinction in Vietnam, Borneo, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea. Of these, more than 200 died and 1,500 were wounded in the service of our nation,” Mr Snowdon said.

Compulsory military service has been a contentious issue throughout Australia's history. Two compulsory service schemes operated in the early 1900s and during the Second World War, it was brought back for a third time in 1951. The National Service Scheme was criticised as not being relevant to modern defence needs, a drain on resources and was brought to an end in 1959. National service was re-introduced for the last time in 1964. Many of these men were sent to serve during the Vietnam War. The Scheme was eventually abolished in 1972.

The contribution of national servicemen is formally recognised through the National Service Memorial located in the Eastern Precinct of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra which opened in September 2010 and the award of the Anniversary of National Service 1951-1972 Medal.

National Service Day is commemorated through services held by the National Servicemen’s Association of Australia.

“I encourage all Australians to learn about our ‘Nashos’ service and to properly honour the sacrifices they made for Australia,” Mr Snowdon said.

Media Note: a National Service media backgrounder about is available from the DVA Media Centre at

Media inquiries:
Minister Snowdon: Lidija Ivanovski 0407 108 935
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203