The centenary of the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) landing on the beaches surrounding the Gallipoli peninsula will be commemorated on 25 April. If ever there was a year to attend a dawn service 2015 is the year.
This year there will be marches. There will be remembrance. There will be reflection on the immense impact this event had on the cultures of two great nations.
Wherever you are this ANZAC Day listen carefully to the historic narrative and pay equal attention to the people attending your local service. As time marches on we will continue to lose veterans of conflicts that were fought generations ago. And as is happening today, the faces of the elderly veteran will continue to be replaced by those with much younger identities, some born as recently as 1990. The youngest veteran I’ve met is 23 years old.
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has been involved in nine campaigns since Vietnam, not including Afghanistan and the very recent participation in the Iraq/Syria conflict. Over 250 servicemen and women have been physically wounded in Afghanistan and the ADF has estimated some 5,000 of the 65,000 people who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from psychological wounds. Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is invariably the manifestation of these wounds that occur due to deployment situations. The tragedy is that PTSD can and does result in suicide. Since 2001 over 100 confirmed or suspected suicides have been recorded within the ADF. I’m not the only one to harbour views that this number is grossly underestimated. More chilling is the recent research from the United States indicating that 22 veterans take their live each day.
Today, a growing number of our modern veterans and their families face the fight of their life to overcome PTSD. It is a pervasive and unrelenting enemy. Sadly, very little will be said about PTSD or its devastating impacts during ANZAC Day commemorations.
Armed with this knowledge your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to reimagine the modern veteran. It starts today by never asking this question and reaching out to expert organisations like Soldier On to help them support our wounded warriors, a mission that will soon extend to first responders. They know what needs to be done and they are looking for sleeves-rolled-up, committed and resourceful volunteers, people like you.
So from this entrepreneur and former soldier, please share this message far and wide because the will of an entire nation is needed to help Australia’s finest.