RICHARD Williams’ dedication and commitment to the Australian armed forces goes above and beyond his own time in the army.
The Canning Vale resident received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) on Australia Day for his service to veterans and their families.
Mr Williams served in Vietnam from 1970 to 1971 as a mechanical engineer and has been the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia (VVAA) state president since 2008.
He said he was honoured to be recognised for his focus on veterans both past and present.
“The motto of the VVAA is ‘honour the dead and fight like hell for the living,” he said.
“Another one we have is ‘once victims, now achievers.’”
Mr Williams has been involved in many initiatives to support veterans, but said the most fulfilling was a fundraising campaign to send the daughter of a veteran to Bali for medical treatment.
Her father had suffered adverse effects from chemical exposure in Vietnam and sadly, his daughter had inherited medical problems.
“We managed to get about $15,000 to send her over there for three months. Her father had a lot of problems, his unit was straight across the road and I was originally posted to that unit,” he said.
“Every time you have a serious issue, when you know you’ve helped someone, that’s good, I guess that’s what I’m here for.
“The health issues, they won’t go away and for the younger veterans who have been on the peacekeeping missions, some of the issues that come out of them are going to be as bad or worse.”
Another of Mr Williams proudest achievements was working with the Department of Corrective Services to provide an employment opportunity for Wandoo Rehabilitation prisoners, assisting with maintenance of VVAA headquarters at Anzac Cottage.
“We got them coming up to the cottage because the gardens always needed attention and we never had enough helpers to do it,” he said.
“The gardens of the cottage aren’t looking as good (now) because we don’t have them up there.”
He also co-produced Camaraderie – Vietnam Remembered, a series of videos featuring the stories of 12 different people involved in the Vietnam War and helped expand the commemorative service for those killed in action in Vietnam to regional area grave sites, as well as Perth War and Karrakatta cemeteries.