Christmas is a time for breaking bread and reconnecting with friends and family.
For some of us, COVID has made this a problem. For those serving in the Australian military, being apart at Christmas is a regular occupational hazard. Especially for those families with partners, mums, dads, brothers and sisters serving in the special forces, who often are not even told in which country they are serving, let alone when, or even if, they will return home.
In the last 20 years, in Afghanistan alone, more than 20,000 Australian military have served in active combat, including 3,000 from the Commandos and the SAS, one of the world’s most experienced and respected military units. Of those who have served, 43 are reported to have given their lives and a further 261 have been wounded.
Since 1941 well over 100,000 Australians have given their lives for their country and double those numbers have been severely wounded in service. In WA, there are over 5000 Veterans who have suffered injury or illness resulting from their service. Behind those Veterans stands at least two to three times the amount of family members.
These are mums and dads who have lost their children, men and women who have lost their partners and the hundreds of kids left without a mother or father. For those who have returned, many struggle to reconnect and readjust.
The nature of modern warfare and politics is such that most acts of courage and sacrifice from these men, women and their families will be forever unknown. It doesn’t make the papers and their code is one of confidence. They serve in silence.
Which is why it is so important that we as a community show that their service and sacrifice has meaning. That medal or no medal, it is recognised and appreciated. That at times of celebration, we remember and are grateful. And if their lives are lost or irrevocably changed as a result of their service, we as a community will take care of their families.
Especially now, when the as-yet untrialled and unproven wrongdoings of a select few have been politicised and used as reason to undermine the service and reputation of so many. The impact on the morale of those who have served, and continue to serve, is incalculable.
How we can support our military?
Legacy WA is a non-government funded organisation which has existed for almost 100 years to support the families of those Veterans killed or injured (mentally and physically) as a result of their service.
There are currently 3700+ widows/ers and children who are beneficiaries of Legacy here in WA. There are many more in need.
We asked Legacy WA how the community could show support to the families of our Veterans:
1: Volunteer: have a cup of tea with a Legacy widow/er, help out at events, answer the phones at the office or help collect donations. Any time you can spare is helpful.
2: Donate: or, if someone asks what you would like for Christmas, tell them a donation to Legacy. Even $50 will allow a widow or widower to attend monthly support group activities, or cover the cost of a child to attend a quarterly resilience activity. Every donation is a show of support from another grateful West Australian.
3: If you know of a Veteran and their family, let them know to contact Legacy WA to see if they are eligible for any of their services. Call (08) 9486 4900 for more information.
Otherwise, please help spread the word by sharing this blog.
From all of us at Scoop, a message of thanks and good wishes to the men, women and families who have served and continue to serve.
Find more information on their website here.