Anzac Day means a lot to me.
My great-grandfather fought in World War 1 and my grandfather was a prisoner of war in WW2.
My grandfather was and always will be my hero. Although he has passed, my entire family is proud of what he achieved as a doctor during the war as well as everything he accomplished after the war.
I will never forget him or what he has done and as each Anzac Day rolls around I stand alongside hundreds of thousands of people of my generation. I stand as a World War descendant.
Although I stand with pride, I have started to wonder whether Anzac Day has become more a day about the descendants than our surviving veterans.
This year in Melbourne a group of WW1 descendants split from the official Anzac Day march because of a conflict over their place in the parade.
The Returned and Services League (RSL) had placed descendants at the end of the march, giving surviving veterans in later wars pride of place.
I completely agree with the RSL’s decision and yet 110 people participated in an alternative march.
At which point did respecting the fallen become more important than supporting our veterans?
As a nation Australia has expended more money and resources commemorating WW1 than any other country.
In 2015 alone, hundreds of millions on dollars was spent on Gallipoli centenary services.
However, Chief executive and co-founder of the charity Soldier On said in Australia a generation of younger veterans from Afghanistan, Iraq, East Timor and a range of other conflicts are struggling to find their place in the Anzac tradition.
“Worse, many veterans are not reintegrating into our community after these conflicts and some cannot shake off the trauma of what they experienced,” he said.
Merimbula Vietnam veteran John Verhelst spoke with the News Weekly earlier this year frustrated at the lack of support from the Australia public for those who fought in Vietnam. He said many of his fellow serviceman continue to battle post traumatic stress disorder and struggle to access necessary support services.
It’s time to spend our money on putting our living veterans first – surely that is what the Anzacs would have wanted.
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