This form letter was completed, signed and given to each man as he was marched out from 106 Field Workshop, Nui Dat. It purports to provide advice to nearest and dearest on how they might assist in his rehabilitation in Australia
Rehabilitation of a Returned Serviceman
1. This is to notify you that your
- / Husband / Lover / Fiance /
- / Brother / Mate / Pen Pal/
- / Uncle / Cousin / Nephew/
- / ........... /
having completed ........ months at 106 Fd Wksp, Nui Dat, nestled securely in semi- tropic jungle in the southern part of the Republic of South Vietnam, will be returning to you on ........
2. Very soon he will once again be in your midst, De-Australianized, Demoralized, Dehydrated but Delighted; once more to take his place, as a human being, to engage in life, liberty and his somewhat delayed pursuit of happiness
3. You should appreciate that he is no longer as sweet or unspoilt as when he left Australia; no longer fired with the patriotic fervour or zest for adventure. He is, however, older, probably leaner, wiser and short tempered.
4. One of the indications of this change will be periods of hot and cold flushes accompanied by shortness of breathe and a trembling at the knees. This is no cause for alarm and is merely the result of malaria, the rigours of the Australian winter, the sight of a mini skirt or an excess of the great Australian brew.
5. For these reasons, the following points have been compiled to help you help him:
- Women: For the first few months (until he becomes house broken) be especially careful when he is in the company of women. The few Australian girls he may have seen during his tour of duty were Red Cross workers or members of an entertainment group visiting VIETNAM. His first reaction will be to stare and mutter, "Round eye, numbah one". Take advantage of this momentary shock to move the young lady out of his reach. His only contact with white girls has been via the centre pages of 'Playboy' and he, therefore, thinks all girls have a staple in their stomaches. If you have to disillusion him, please do so gently
- Show no alarm if he prefers to squat rather than sit on chairs, or accuses taxi drivers, shop assistants and barmen of being thieves and subjects them to vigorous bargaining.
- Be tolerant if he refuses to go to bed without a rifle, mosquito net, can of beer, or insists that everybody wear a long sleeved shirt after 6:30 at night.
- When crossing a street take care of him for he has an impartial indifference to car horns, Lambros, bicycles, trucks, carts and water buffalo
- When driving don't be alarmed if he persistently veers to the right or screams abusive torrents at anyone attempting to turn, change lanes, overtake or slow down
- Simply smile if he spends half the day flushing the toilet: this is a novelty and will soon pass
- Food: Don't mention powdered eggs, beef, pork or hamburger. Also fresh milk, icecream, potatoes and ham are touchy subjects and are best left out of the conversation for some time. Do not be offended if he refers to your cooking as 'Bukoo chop-chop" or if he insists on eating with plastic spoons or chopsticks. Above all do not mention "C" rations, instant tea or fresh bread.
- Drink: Encourage him to drink from a glass. Although he will most certainly drink from a can, he may then fling it backwards over his shoulder yelling "Up the old red rooster! ......Whose shout?". This, although amusing to friends, may be a source of consternation to strangers and will definitely slow progress
- Miscellaneous: Never ask such questions as; "Does it rain in VIETNAM?"; "Are the women really flat chested?"; "Do you get Saturdays and Sundays off?"; or worst of all, "Is the mail good?". To any or all these questions he will laugh, cry or, perhaps, both. None of these are good for him
6. He should be a rational being in about a year or so. At all times humour him and make him feel important. Occasionally whisper "Uc Dai Loi numbah one" to him
7. Beneath the tanned rugged exterior beats a heart of gold. Treasure it. It is all he has left. Treat him with kindness and love, spiced occasionally with a middy or two of cold beer. Remind him he is at home and VIETNAM is a long way away; everybody loves him and the mosquitoes won't bite.
8. In closing should you need any further help please contact the Vietnamese Police in Saigon, Baria or Vung Tau. They will neither be able to understand or help you but they like to use the phone as it makes them feel important
9. Lastly, GOOD LUCK - You'll need it!
Adjt 106 Fd Wksp RAEME
106 Fd Wksp RAEME