After being evacuated from South Vietnam, Edwards was immediately sent to surgery. Right before the anaesthetic took effect, he recalls 'looking into the eyes of the surgeon as he studied my x-rays and feeling sorry for him'. He awoke with legs amputated to above the knee and a very uncertain future.
Rehabilitation has been difficult for many war veterans, but for Vietnam veterans it was a particularly unpleasant ordeal. After being fitted with artificial legs, he went to a rehabilitation centre that was actually a centre for young people with learning difficulties. The Vietnam War was something that was so unpopular with the people, it was kept hidden and low-key- instead of having actual rehabilitation centres for veterans, they were sent to places that weren't suited to their needs, but simply allowed them to hide. Edwards described the staff as bored and disinterested. When he went to the organiser of the program to say that the situation was not working, Edwards recalled that the organiser 'exploded and accused me of not being grateful and not appreciating what my country was doing for me'.
After discharge from rehabilitation, Edwards moved back to Western Australia with his wife and his 7 month-old daughter. He had once thought that he would rather die than return home disabled, but at that point Edwards said that he 'was just happy to be home alive and grateful to have survived'. He went back to school to complete his education. He regretted leaving school at 15, for he could no longer rely on his skills in football and other sports to make a career to support his family. He attended the Leederville Technical College to complete his education. His time at the college was made difficult by his artificial legs, which were awkward to use and sometimes, especially in the summer, the suction that held his legs on would break. Edwards also remembers that his English teacher was an 'anti-war, anti-vet person', and they did not get along well.
At the end of the year, a group who were overseeing his rehabilitation said that they had a job for him. Edwards was thrilled at the time, but unfortunately that feeling didn't last, as when he arrived at the job, he realised that it was actually at a sheltered workshop, where people with mental disabilities completed uncomplicated and ordinary tasks. He was devastated, but later was offered a proper job, as a civilian working with the army. This was the start of a new chapter of Graham Edwards' life, as he became increasingly involved in veterans' affairs and the community.
Secretarial work with local organisations, his daughter's school's P&C, the Korea South East Asia Forces Association, the Limbless Soldiers Association and the RSL- Edwards became heavily involved in community projects, saying that he 'did not want to be seen to be disabled and useless'. He was determined to live life to the fullest, and did everything he could to do so. He became involved in politics after his request to build a memorial for Vietnam veterans was vetoed by the local council, and, motivated by other issues, he decided to run for council himself. He served for 14 years. He also decided to stop wearing his artificial legs, in what he described as the 'best decision I ever made'.
A welcome parade was held for Vietnam veterans a while later, in what Edwards described as 'a wonderful, warm and emotional occasion' and a 'wonderful healing experience'. At the parade, there were reunions, healing, and a sense of closure. Afterwards, Edwards decided that he would like to go back to Vietnam, and went on to create the first Australian memorial service in Vietnam. It was held at Long Tan, and before it was held, he and the Australian Ambassador to Vietnam had a meeting with the Vietnam Local People's Committee. At the meeting, Edwards, who did not understand much Vietnamese, thought that the service would never be held due to what he understood from the attitudes of the Committee. However, the members of the committee decided that it should go forward, after one member said that 'the Vietnamese would never forget the loved ones who had lost their lives and never forget that it was the Australians who had killed many of them', but that 'the war was over and it was time to look to the future and for the sake of our children and the Australians' children we should shake hands and look to become friends'.
The Welcome Home Parade for Vietnam Veterans, held in 1987
The service went ahead wonderfully in that year of 1990, and many like services have been held since. In Australia, Edwards has continued to work with veterans, working towards improving their lives, especially in the areas of mental health that so often follow wartime experiences.