Maroochydore ANZAC service. Crowds cheer on the marching.
Maroochydore ANZAC service. Crowds cheer on the marching. Warren Lynam

OPINION: We shouldn't forget once Anzac Day ends

WILL the flags still be flying today?

Will the arms of the community still be wrapped firmly around our veterans as you read this?

I doubt it very much.

Anzac Day is a vitally important day in our nation's psyche, it recognises a battle that helped define us.

But I also see merit in the theory that what we do echoes louder than what we say.

And I don't think we're doing enough for these people, men and women, mothers and fathers, who are willing to lay everything on the line for the safety of strangers.

It's hard to argue with Maroochydore RSL president Michael Liddelow's sentiments.

I agree, just about everybody is touched by the Anzac story.

But reading the story of Chris May, who first toured Afghanistan as a 19-year-old and came home a broken man, quickly puts everything in perspective.

Sure, head to the RSL, drink a few rum and milks with your mates.

Play some two-up, get raucous.

It's a celebration of our freedom, the larrikin spirit we express freely, it'd be rude not to do so, as they're among the things many diggers sacrificed themselves for.

But it would be fantastic if, amidst the post Anzac Day fog this morning, a few of you could think about the struggles faced every other day for the thousands of men and women serving, or returned, and their families.

Aside from yesterday and Remembrance Day, our defence force personnel are fairly far from most minds year-round.

We're happy to be disengaged as our governments deploy them to all ends of the earth, to fight on foreign soil for causes supposedly noble.

We also happily, it appears, play ignorant to the struggles that plague these people when they get home and try to re-enter society.

Depression, physical injuries, mental scars, brain injuries, PTSD, homelessness.

The list goes on.

These warriors don't stop fighting when the bullets stop flying.

They face a battle for recognition, for the assistance they deserve, when they get back home to a country which, if you were to believe everything you saw yesterday, supposedly loves them dearly.

I've sat opposite Maj-Gen John Cantwell at a Cooroy cafe, as he opened up about his struggles with PTSD, after being moved by his book Exit Wounds. Read it. It's brilliant, raw and real.

This man was top brass in the army. If he isn't immune, no one is.

Groups like Mates4Mates, Young Diggers and more deserve plenty of plaudits, but it shouldn't be up to veterans to help themselves.

Governments willing to send these people to war should be kicking the can to help them when their duties are done.

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