Australia’s national servicemen, affectionately known as Nashos, played a unique and invaluable role in serving our country and each year on 14 February we honour them on National Servicemen’s Day. 

Throughout history, Australia has had four periods of compulsory national service, most recently between 1951–1959 and 1964–1972, with more than 280,000 national servicemen serving since the Second World War.

Under the National Service Act 1951, all men turning 18 on or after 1 November 1950 were required to undertake 176 days standard recruit training in the Navy, Army or Air Force, followed by five years in their respective Reserves. Intake was cut back in 1957 and a birthday ballot was introduced to decide who would be selected.

National service was re-introduced in 1964 as concerns grew about the security of Australia due to conflicts in nearby regions and more than 60,000 ‘Nashos’ would serve between then and 1972.

Men who turned 20 years of age were required to register and were chosen for service through a birthday ballot held twice a year. Of those called to serve, more than 15,000 served in the Vietnam War, where some 200 lost their lives and more than 1,200 were wounded. Two national servicemen also died while serving in Borneo in 1966.

As a nation we should always remember the service and sacrifice of our Nashos. The Australian War Memorial will honour our Nashos through the Last Post Ceremony at the Australian War Memorial on 14 February with a representative from the National Servicemen’s Association of Australia laying a wreath.

I encourage all those in the community to learn more about the National Service Scheme of 1964 by visiting the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Anzac Portal — https://anzacportal.dva.gov.au.

On National Servicemen’s Day we say thank you for your service to all our Nashos and remember their service and sacrifice.

Lest we forget.