As Australians we have two special days in our calendar each year dedicated to honouring and remembering our incredible service men and women in the Defence Forces. Anzac Day and Remembrance Day are both days throughout my years that I remember with fondness.
Growing up, I didn’t have a personal connection with anyone in the defence forces, however I do remember each time we had a commemoration service at school or in the community I grew up in, that I found myself pondering what these service men and women actually did. What was the gravity of their service over the years? How have they defended our nation? What did it mean for me? How could I show my support for these people? What caused these men and women to make such sacrifices for their country and its people? My questions were many!
Fast forward to 2017. There is a great deal going on in our world today. Wars. Rumours of Wars. There is a military presence in countless nations in our world. Our Australian Defence Force has a significant presence in a selection of those nations. The sacrifice given and expected of our service men and women is no small thing.
Unlike my childhood years, I do have something of a personal connection now. Four of my extended family members are currently serving across various sectors of the Australian Defence Force, and I am so very proud of the way that each of them serve our nation and the ways in which they have committed themselves to fight for the peace and freedom of our nation, along with the people of other war-torn and war-affected nations.
The community in which I have lived and worked for the past 22 years has a very strong defence presence, with an active army base located on the outskirts of our town. In my role, both as teacher and as counsellor in this community, I have had personal contact with many ‘Defence Families’ over the years for various reasons and in range of ways. I have friends who are medical and allied health professionals in our community who also see Defence workers and their family members in our community on a whole range of occasions, for a whole variety of reasons. Many of us have the ‘privilege’ of seeing these people in their most vulnerable moments. In those moments (and I speak on behalf of many I know) we see a glimpse of the heartache, the challenge, the pain and the helplessness that so many of these defence personnel experience frequently.
So my question this Remembrance Day, 11th November 2017 is this:
Do we really know their plight?
These Australian Defence Force workers and let’s not forget their families. They’re our heroes right? Many of them know sacrifice like most of us will never know! But what does that really mean? What does that look like?
The soldier who served in Iraq who has repeated nightmares of the enemy killing those he loves and the trauma he endures every time it happens.
The wife and children who wake to the news that their husband and father has become the latest casualty of war.
The children who live in fear of never seeing their mother or father return from service in Afghanistan or Iraq.
The injured soldier with a permanent physical impairment who returns home and is told he is no longer fit to serve his country.
The young wife who discovers she is pregnant right after her husband leaves for Iraq for the next 6-12 months, with no family living nearby.
Where do these heroes of ours go? Who helps them find healing from their psychological scars? Who is considered ‘safe’ for them to share the darkest valleys of their journey with? How are members of their families truly supported through the emotional turbulence such a sacrifice brings.
Some may say, “They make their choice.”
I say, “How can we show them the honour and deep respect they truly deserve in their chosen path?”
We each have a purpose. For many it is undeniable…and so the choice is compelling!
Without these remarkable people we would not have a defence force in our nation!
Let’s get busy dreaming of genuine ways in which we can give honour to our service men and women (and their families) who sacrifice so much. Let’s truly grow in our understanding of their plight and not ignore or minimise how deeply committed and sacrificial their service is to our beautiful nation, Australia!
Service Men and Women of AUSTRALIA – WE HONOUR YOU!!!