COME Remembrance Day this year, a group of three veterans plan to mark their respects at the northern-most tip of Australia.
Shane Dixon, Mathew Keene and Chris May – all members of the group Young Veterans – by that stage would have stopped at 30 towns between Wilson’s Promontory and Cape York in six weeks.
They would have spoken at schools, groups and RSL branches to spread awareness on the often-overlooked plight of the young, modern veteran.
“Kids are often shocked to know me and (brother) Scott are veterans of the war,” Mr May said.
“They picture veterans as old guys with jackets.”
Most of Australia’s returned veterans are now in their mid-twenties to thirties.
Some return with disabilities, mental health issues and some simply struggle to cope with “fitting in” to civilian home life.
Young Veterans has been the conduit for many of them, making initial contact via social media.
It has helped many newly-returned servicepeople – and anyone who put on “the uniform” – to get help, counselling and housing.
On weekends, the group organised camping trips to stir some veterans “out of the woodwork”.
On 1 October, just prior to embarking on its 40-day cross-country odyssey, the group made a brief visit to Dandenong RSL – its major sponsor who donated three ex-military Land Rovers to the cause.
General manager Greg Betros said the group had “opened our eyes” to what young veterans endured.
“We’re happy to support them. We think it’s more than beneficial.”
Chris May remembers spending his 20th birthday in a rocket shelter in Afghanistan after his party was “rocketed”.
He and his companions shared a birthday fruitcake cooked by his mother and lit with 20 candles.
“I’d do it again in a heartbeat,” he says now of that experience.
Such treats like that cake also “mean the world” to our servicepeople, Mr May says.
Soberingly, he returned home after being wounded when his armoured vehicle drove over a roadside bomb.
To keep up to date with the trek, follow the Young Veterans site on Facebook.
THE Casey Council is opening its pockets for residents keen to improve local vegetation. The City of Casey’s Biodiversity Incentive Scheme Grants ar... Read More »