Australia has been urged to care properly for its war veterans, mindful of the sacrifices they have made and the physical, mental and emotional scars many still bear.
The Anzac Day dawn service in Adelaide has heard that those elected to lead the country bear a great responsibility when they send young people to fight on the nation’s behalf.
“A responsibility that includes caring properly for them when they return home,” Ian Smith, chairman of the SA Anzac Day committee told the 8000 people who gathered at the city’s war memorial before dawn.
“Some are only just coming to terms with how their service has changed their own lives.
“Sadly this process can result in family breakdown, homelessness and has even seen a number of our veterans take their own lives.”
One year after the Anzac centenary, this year’s services mark the 100th anniversary of Australia’s worst 24 hours in military history when 5533 were killed or injured during the disastrous battle of Fromelles.
This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the battle of Long Tan in the Vietnam War.
Vietnam veteran John Staszynski, 69, said the worst part of the Vietnam experience was coming back to a country that told him not to wear his uniform.
“They told you to keep a low profile, stay out of trouble and we thought that was a real kick in the pants,” he said.
Mr Smith said Anzac Day was a time to remember the terrible cost paid by all who fought in those and other conflicts since federation.
“War is brutish, inglorious and a terrible waste,” he said.
“It leaves an indelible mark on those who endure it.
“It’s only redeeming qualities are the bravery displayed and the devotion of comrades to one another.”
The SA dawn service also included the traditional laying of wreaths with Premier Jay Weatherill and senators Simon Birmingham and Penny Wong among those to pay their respects.