Anzac Day: Remember ‘ultimate sacrifice’ of veterans
WHILE thousands turned out in Ballina last year to mark the centenary of the Gallipoli landings, president of the Ballina RSL Sub-Branch Bill Moore said the focus of this year's Anzac Day was on contemporary veterans.
He said it was important to remember all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice over the years, particularly noting this year will be the centenary of some of the bloodiest fighting in the First World War trenches of the Western Front in Europe and the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan during the Vietnam War.
But he said many of the 70,000 defence force personnel deployed since 1999 in places like East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan who returned home are now facing their own personal battles of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and many are subsequently taking their own lives.
Some reports claim one in five veterans suffer trauma but that could be higher.
"That has to be addressed," he said.
"We're (the Ballina Sub-branch of the Returned and Services League) are doing our bit to help."
The RSL sub-branches in Ballina and Alstonville had trained staff available to help veterans with Department of Veterans' Affairs claims.
And the sub-branch offered the same kind of camaraderie serving with mates in the army, the navy and the air force also offered.
John Shea, from Ballina, served in East Timor with the 5th Aviation Regiment during four-year's service in the Australian Army.
While he said he did not suffer the kinds of trauma some of his comrades did, the experience still "changed the way you look at the world".
It was his grandfather, a Second World War veteran, who encouraged him to join the RSL, and the Southern Cross University osteopathy student is a member of the Ballina sub-branch.
He said the sub-branch offered a place where ex-service people could "understand each other", not just in terms of shared experiences but also in understanding the jargon of the services.
"And you hear the same old jokes as well," the 37-year-old said light-heartedly.
If you need support, phone the Federal Govt's Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service on 1800011 046 or Lifeline on 131114.