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ANZAC Day is a day of remembrance, the day we stop and appreciate the defence force and all they’ve done for our country.

My Story

I’ve been reflecting on why I find it difficult to write about ANZAC Day and I’ve come to a conclusion. It’s tough because I have firsthand experience of being married to a soldier and hearing the lived experiences as told by veterans. Those men have lived through hell, survived and in some cases ever so slightly open the door just a little to tell their story.

I went with my husband who was involved in dawn services on ANZAC Day. After the ceremony we would go down to the local R.S.L. club to mingle with the old diggers, hear their stories and reminiscences helped along with copious amounts of beer. There’s a strong competition but also a deep camaraderie between defence force members. No matter which branch of service, corps, regiment or battalion you’re in, there’s a knowing and – conversation flows.

We need to take care of them

From my experience of hearing the guys talk and looking out for each other and then trying to fit back into civilian life, is often impossible.

I know how difficult was for our kids and myself with my husband coming home and using the same strategies he did with his troops. This was terrifying for us and luckily he agreed to therapy, he worked hard to get back into a civil way of life and our lives are so much better now. I’ve always loved him and now love being with him.

Many aren’t so lucky

My story only talks of males because my husband hasn’t been in the army for many years and there were so few women involved then.

I’ve spoken to many ADF personnel and heard many stories that were funny, unusual situations etc. However very few told of the trauma they’d been through. These are the stories that need to be shared with a professional, so the appropriate treatment can be given so they can settle back into civilian life.

My hope is that through these reports that this will happen.

A recent report (examining statistics from 1997 – 2020) done by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIAW) on suicide rates of Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel revealed alarming numbers of suicide rate. Compared to the Australian population, serving female ADF personnel were 107% more likely to die by suicide and ex-serving males were 27% more likely to die by suicide. It was also revealed that the longer they stayed active in the ADF the suicide rate lowered quite considerably.

Help is now available
There are hotlines available:

Lifeline 13 11 14
Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636
Defence All-Hours Support Line 1800 628 036
Defence Member and Family Helpline 1800 624 608
Open Arms Veterans and Family Counselling 1800 011 046

The Wrap Up

On ANZAC Day remember the fallen, but also remember the ex-service personnel along with those members that are still serving. After the dawn service talk to someone who wears medals, you might get an amazing story. Ask a simple question like “in which unit did you serve”?

A Little about the Ode

The Ode that you hear on ANZAC Day is taken from a poem written by Laurence Binyon following The Great War of 1914 – 1918, he was an English poet. It was used in Australia in 1921 in association with commemoration services.

The Ode

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old; Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning. We will remember them”.

Lest we forget.

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