SA urged to remember veterans’ scars

As South Australians honour those who fought for their country, the scars of the past are still visible for some.


About 15,000 people gathered under sunny skies for Adelaide’s Anzac Day parade, lining the streets from the War Memorial on North Terrace to the Cross of Sacrifice.

The mood was more sombre at the dawn service, where Anzac Day committee chairman Ian Smith urged people to be mindful of the physical, mental and emotional scars many veterans still bear.

Those elected to lead the country had a great responsibility when they sent young people to fight on the nation’s behalf, Mr Smith said on Monday.

“A responsibility that includes caring properly for them when they return home,” he told the crowd of about 8000 people.

“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.”

While some recent veterans spoke of the support they were given to adjust to civilian life, others were not so fortunate.

Former corporal John Staszynski, 69, said the worst part of the Vietnam War was going home.

“[It was] coming back to a country that told you not to wear your uniform because it would only upset the protesters,” he told AAP.

“They told you to keep a low profile, stay out of trouble. And we thought that was a real kick in the pants.

“We were out there believing we’d done the right thing.”

Former gunner Scott Dolling fared better when he returned from a two-year stint in Borneo in 1945, attending university and becoming a sheep geneticist.

Now 90, he reflected on enlisting at age 18.

“You were just part of what everyone was doing. It was the normal procedure to join up, and off you go,” he said.

“It was, ‘What’s going to happen tomorrow? I don’t know. We’ll find out’. That was the feeling.”

Corporal Matt Holdsworth, 39, said the opportunity to serve in Afghanistan was the “icing on the cake” as well as the ultimate test after campaigns in East Timor and Indonesia.

“We saw a lot, more than what I would have seen on any other campaigns,” he said.

“It was pretty raw. There’s a lot of memories from that which sort of create what you want to be as a soldier. All your sacrifices, your integrity, your determination. Everything you get trained for.

“Everyone wants to go there but it’s not until you actually land, you realise how full-on it is.”

For others at the parade, there was simply a feeling of gratitude.

Rachel Parry, 23, was there to proudly watch her fiance, David Dalton, march after returning from an air force deployment in the Middle East.

“It’s the first time marching with his medals on today,” she said.

“He loves doing it.”