Barry Heard's Story
Barry Clifford Heard was born in Melbourne, Victoria, on 9 January 1945.
Brought up in rural Victoria, Barry was 20 when he received a letter that he had been conscripted for national service. He got a deferment and entered the third draft in 1966.
Barry trained at Puckapunyal, Victoria, and Singleton, New South Wales, before going to the Jungle Warfare Training Centre at Canungra, Queensland. Then he was posted to 7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (7RAR).
Barry recalls not having any idea what he was getting himself into. His father spoke of communists, which he thought was a 'breed of sheep'. The reality really didn't sink in until he completed training. In 1967, Barry was deployed to South Vietnam as a radio operator.
After 7 months serving in the Vietnam War, Barry returned a different person. Like many veterans, his post-war life was difficult. He began to drink heavily and, as time went on, found it hard to navigate social situations.
Later, Barry moved to Melbourne to attend university and felt the full brunt of society's growing dislike for the Vietnam War. After confronting some protestors, he received a lot of abuse, which led to him feeling more isolated.
It took about 30 years before Barry's wartime experiences became unmanageable. He suffered a debilitating breakdown and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Barry's path back to health was long and painful for him and his family. He sought help at the psychiatric ward in Melbourne, which enabled him to write his first book, Well Done, Those Men.
In 2009, Barry was appointed Australian Ambassador for Libraries Victoria. He has been involved with fundraising for Hope Foundation, Fred Hollows Foundation, Oak Tree, Books for Bhutan and 2 orphanages in Vietnam.