Iraq war veteran angry at memorial protest

NO RESPECT: Returned Iraq and East Timor veteran, Ben Millmann, is disgusted that somebody stuck an anti-war plaque on the Nambour cenotaph.
NO RESPECT: Returned Iraq and East Timor veteran, Ben Millmann, is disgusted that somebody stuck an anti-war plaque on the Nambour cenotaph. Brett Wortman

AN IRAQ war veteran said he felt like he had been "kicked in the guts" by anti-war protesters who hung a placard at the Nambour cenotaph.

Ben Millmann said he was disgusted by the sign which decried the wars waged by the "criminal" American governments in the Middle East.

He discovered the sign at Quota Park on Thursday morning and promptly tore it down.

Mr Millmann, who completed tours of East Timor in 2004 and Iraq in 2004-05, said his problem was not with the sentiment, but that it had been hung at a place of remembrance.

"It's one place where political opinion has no place," he said. "My problem is where it was placed. People have their right to free speech in a democracy.

"It was placed right underneath the part of the memorial that's for people who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and peacekeeping missions."

Mr Millmann, 29, said that the incident left his blood boiling.

He was left with psychological and physical injuries after being the victim of a car bombing in Baghdad on Australia Day in 2005.

He said many young veterans felt marginalised and said the protesters "should have a hard think" about their actions.

"Over the last decade there's been a rash of vandalism on memorials," he said.

"I just hope that young veterans don't have to re-live what the Vietnam veterans went through.

"A lot of the veterans are struggling emotionally and physically.

"They should be supported, not marginalised."

Mr Millmann also lamented the lack of young veterans who were joining the RSL. He said he was one of 10 members of the Maroochydore sub-branch less than 30 years of age.

"The RSL is here to support our veterans," he said.

Nambour sub-branch president Lenn Bevvington said the positioning of the protest was in poor taste.

"It's very inappropriate for an anti-war protest to be staged like this," he said.

"No one loves war.

"I really think it's in poor taste and there are more appropriate ways to put forth your objections. Cenotaphs and memorials have nothing to do with Syria."

Topics:  editors picks iraq protest veteran

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