COMMEMORATION: Cooroy-Pomona RSL welfare officers Jo and Greg Dyce.
COMMEMORATION: Cooroy-Pomona RSL welfare officers Jo and Greg Dyce. Amber Macpherson

Remembering diggers' sacrifice

WHEN Greg Dyce came home from the Vietnam War, help for returned service men and women was almost unheard of.

"When I got here out of the Air Force in '88, I didn't know about the RSL," Mr Dyce said.

"I did 23 years in service. That's how quiet it was."

While that might come as a shock to today's generation, many returned diggers continue to suffer in silence.

That's why Mr Dyce and his wife Jo, of Noosaville, volunteer as welfare officers for the Cooroy-Pomona RSL Sub Branch.

Remembrance Day marks the end of the First World War in 1918, and is a day to remember those who have died in all wars since.

For Mr and Mrs Dyce, the day means much more than a minute's silence at 11am.

"It's a time to be able to reflect, to remember all of those that went before you," Mr Dyce said.

"It's got meaning to everybody, but it means a fair bit to me, and others like me. It's a day to think about the people that paved the way before you, and gave the ultimate sacrifice."

Mr Dyce said while it is encouraging that days like today and Anzac Day remain engrained in Australian culture, bringing awareness about the suffering of veterans still has a long way to go.

"There's still a lot of work to do," Mr Dyce said.

"The suicide rate of vets is higher than any other group of people in Australia, but you never hear much about that.

"It is getting better, but it's a work in progress."

Mr Dyce said the Federal Government's Department of Veterans' Affairs service was having a positive impact, but it was a system bound by red tape.

"It's a system that's bureaucratic," he said.

"Once you get in to it, it's very, very good, but sometimes trying to get in to the system is very difficult.

"We find there's ex-vets, young guys from Afghanistan that don't know that they're entitled to different things, and are crying out for help.

"And there's ex-Vietnam vets that live in the boots of cars. In some places it's chronic.

"That's what we're aiming to do, to make everybody that's entitled to DVA aware that it's there.

"Not everybody has problems, but the ones that do really need help."

Volunteer Heather Ford has been giving up her time to sell poppies and memorabilia for the Cooroy-Pomona RSL for 20 years as a mark of respect.

"I want to give back to the diggers, because of what they gave for us," Ms Ford said.


How many Australian soldiers died in the Great War?

The official estimate is about 60,000 killed and another 155,000 wounded.

When did the Great War end?

Fighting ceased at 11am on November 11, 1918 but the war was not officially over until the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919.

When did Australian soldiers first serve alongside American troops?

At the Battle of Hamel on July 4, 1918 in France. Four American companies fought under the command of the Australian Lt. Gen. John Monash. America declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917 and first fought at the Battle of Cantigny on May 28, 1918.

When were Australian soldiers first named diggers?

Originally the term digger applied only to New Zealand troops but by late 1917 on the Western Front the term also included Australians. The New Zealanders may have gotten the name from "gum diggers" - men and women who dug for fossilised Kauri gum before the war.

Source:, 2016.

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