The RSL has urged Australians to praise Australian Defence Force personnel 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,” Mr Melick said.
He dismisses as “premature, counter-productive and heartless” suggestions that ADF personnel died or suffered in vain.
Mr Melick has paid tribute to Australia’s contribution in Afghanistan.
“[T]he living conditions of many Afghans were improved over the past 20 years,” he said.
“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.”
Mr Melick is concerned that many veterans who served in Afghanistan and other Middle East theatres will be “deeply impacted by the latest events on the ground there”.
“[W]e need to understand and appreciate the effect on our veterans of those operations,” he said.
“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.
“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.”
Mr Melick has added the RSL’s voice to calls for more to be done to evacuate and repatriate Afghan nationals who aided Australia’s campaign in Afghanistan.
He said Australia had a “moral obligation to extract and accept as many of those [Afghan workers] and their families who had assisted Australian Defence forces and embassy officials during the deployment in Afghanistan”.
“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.”