Vietnam Veterans Counselling Service Name Change Ceremony - 17 Apr 2007

Media Release

Department of Veterans' Affairs

Vol 6, Issue 5, May 2007

The “Gifting” Ceremony was held in Adelaide on the evening of the 17th April 07. It marked the 25th Anniversary of the VVCS and also the change of the name of the VVCS to the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service – hence the acronym VVCS remains. It was attended by the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Bruce Billson, MP, who honoured the contribution of Vietnam veterans to VVCS.

The “Gifting” ceremony was a scroll written to convey the service onto all veterans and their families, of which was handed over to the National President APPVA, Mr Paul Copeland by one of the original members of the VVCS, Vietnam veteran Bernard Szapiel. The Minister facilitated the symbolic shaking of hands with the loud approval of the audience. The Scroll is to be kept in the VVCS Adelaide Office.

The following day a memorial plaque was dedicated in the VVCS Adelaide Office, with the South Australian Branch President, Mr Wayne Alexander OAM and Vietnam Veterans. The plaque being unveiled by the Minister will be hung in all VVCS offices throughout the country.

VVCS was established after the Vietnam veteran community successfully lobbied the Australian Government for counseling and support services for their familes and their mates.

The first VVCS office opened in Adelaide in 1982, which placed a sense of history to the ceremony, going back to where it began 25 years ago.

David Morton, the National Manager of VVCS, said “The decision to change the name of the service was made to ensure that the veteran community is aware that VVCS is available to the wider veteran community, and not only Vietnam veterans as the original name suggested”.

VVCS provides counseling and support to the wider veteran and defence communities to work through issues that are directly related to their service as well as lifestyle issues that affect their health and well-being.

The new name was selected following consultation with the veteran community and other stakeholders, who supported efforts to ensure the name better reflected the wider veteran and defnece communites that the VVCS serves. The new name also incorporate the new heritage line – A service founded by Vietnam Veterans – to recognize the origins of the service.

Mr Copeland, National President of the Australian Peacekeeper & Peacemaker Veterans’ Association, stated that “This is indeed an honour bestowed to Younger Veterans that we shall vow to uphold and keep”.

The APPVA had lobbied for the VVCS name change since 1999. After a Pathways to Care study on a number of under 45 year old veterans of various conflicts and operations, it was found that the name Vietnam Veteran Counselling Service dissuaded this group of veterans from using the service.

The APPVA congratulates the Minister for tackling this issue and also thanks the majority of the Vietnam Veteran community for their emphatic support with this name change and the “Gifting” Ceremony.