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Media releases

The Hon Darren Chester MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel


Thursday, 13 February 2020

Honouring our National Servicemen

Tomorrow, 14 February, is National Servicemen’s Day, a day where we honour those who have served our nation through compulsory military service.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister for Defence Personnel Darren Chester said it is important to remember these men who put their lives on the line in the service of our country in times of significant need.

“Our nation has seen four periods of compulsory military service, with the most recent two schemes between 1951–1959 and 1964–1972,” Mr Chester said.

“The last scheme was introduced at a time of heightened regional tension with Australia’s ongoing involvement in the Vietnam War and the Government took this significant step to increase the size of Australia’s military.

“This was not full-scale conscription, rather National Servicemen or ‘Nashos’ were chosen from men of 20 years of age using a ballot system held twice a year.

“If your birthday was drawn from the ballot and you met certain security and fitness criteria you could be selected to serve two years in the Army followed by three years in the Army Reserve. In August 1971 the two-year term was reduced to 18 months.”

From 1964–1972 more than 804,000 men registered for national service, with more than 60,000 called up to serve. Of these, more than 15,000 served in the Vietnam War, where some 200 were killed and more than 1,200 wounded.

“On Tuesday 18 February, Australia will commemorate the 50th anniversary of Operation Hammersley, one of our significant operations in the Vietnam War. This will be an opportunity to remember all those who served in the Operation, including our Nashos,” Mr Chester said.

“I encourage all Australians to take time out to reflect on the unique nature of the service and sacrifice of these men and ensure they are always remembered.”

Media contacts:

Rachel Tharratt: 02 6277 7820
DVA Media: 02 6289 6466

Office of the Hon Darren Chester, Canberra ACT

Open Arms — Veterans and Families Counselling provides support for current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families. Free and confidential help is available 24/7. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 1800 011 046 or +61 8 8241 4546) or visit