Sharing the bond of war
TEWANTIN-NOOSA RSL sub-branch president Mick Reid was 15 years old when he joined the Navy.
"There was a program going called junior recruits,” Mr Reid said.
"I did 12 months training in Fremantle, and at 16 I was at sea on a warship.”
At an age when most are enjoying their teenage years, Mr Reid was thrust in to adulthood as an officer in the Vietnam War.
"I don't know how many 15-year-olds would sign up today,” he said.
"I don't know how they'd go without their iPhones at sea.”
While it's harder for the younger generation to fathom war in times of peace, he said support for Anzac Day wasn't fading, but growing.
"Schools embrace it - high schools and primary schools,” he said.
"We've got a lot of schools placing wreaths and being a part of it.
"Anzac Day, it's really got a life of its own.”
Mr Reid said the recent recognition of gallantry in the Vietnam War and the centenary of the start World War I helped commem- orative days like today stay relevant and respected.
"The support for Anzac Day is growing,” he said.
"When the Vietnam vets were finally recognised, a flood of support came in.
"The 100 year remembrance (of WWI), that raised its profile again and brought it to the forefront.”
Mr Reid said it was a day veterans looked forward to, where they could share memories of their service and the challenges of returning to "civilian” life.
At first, Mr Reid struggled to integrate with society after 15 years in the Navy - something he believes young and old veterans have in common.
"In the Navy, you know where you stand, what to do - it's a controlled environ- ment,” Mr Reid said.
"You talk to any of the young vets, that's their biggest challenge - adapting to becoming a civilian.
"The bond that occurs when you're in the services, it's an amazing thing that doesn't occur in civilian life. The mateship is something you miss.”
Mr Reid said often younger veterans didn't use the support services available at the RSL for issues like this and others, and it's a challenge sub-branches everywhere were coming across.
"Trying to identify younger veterans, that's a big thing,” Mr Reid said.
"RSLs, they're manned by old men like me. They (young veterans) think 'why would I go to them? what would they know?' We've been there, we do know.
"We can help, and there's non-profit organisations, like Mates4Mates, Soldier On. There's 500 of them in Australia.
"We have to be conscious of being here for the next generation of veterans.”