RSLWA Veteran Liaison officer John McPherson, a Vietnam Veteran, issues a heartfelt call to arms for young Veterans on behalf of 34 ageing or undermanned Sub-Branch committees (see full list below).
G’Day friends, I’ve got a story I want to share with you.
When I came back from Vietnam in late 1971, and left the Army after National Service in 1972, I thought I’d do the right thing and join my local RSL in Victoria.
My first impression when I entered my particular RSL was to see the half dozen old fellas at the bar having a beer together … and not being particularly interested in, or welcoming, to this young bloke fresh from Vietnam.
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A fortnight later, I thought I’d give it another try – and encountered the same result. So I became one of the general population who saw the RSL as mainly a place for “old blokes” to get together and have a beer (there weren’t many women in the military back in those days).
As a result, I’ve rarely had anything further to do with the RSL until this year.
I’ve since discovered that while older Veterans do still enjoy having a drink together – it’s called camaraderie and good fellowship – the RSL no longer stands for just that.
Please don’t be offended if you’re an older Veteran, because I’m one too: I’m 71 years young and know that many of our 130 WA Sub-Branches are run by Veterans much older than me. But we realistically need new younger Veterans to get involved if our Sub-Branches are to survive the circle of life.
When I transitioned from military service back into civilian life, the brother/sisterhood I’d come to take for granted was no longer there. All of a sudden, as my younger counterparts of recent conflicts are finding, there were a myriad other problems that had to be faced that hadn’t been there while I was in service. Medical, dental, rent/mortgage, daily living, etc.
Which brings me to why I’m doing what I’m doing now, as RSLWA’s Veteran Liaison Officer.
RSLWA still provides camaraderie, but is now more focused on providing for Veterans and their families. These include: Veterans who want to know what entitlements they or their families have after military service; how to go about achieving those entitlements; what forms they need to fill in; and whatever other assistance Veterans need. RSLWA is doing this now through its advocacy, wellbeing and welfare, financial advisory, commemoration and transition services. All the things I was looking for but had real trouble finding 50 years ago.
But to provide these services, the very hard-working Veterans and Affiliates in the 130 WA Sub-Branches need to be supplemented by our newer, younger blood who are willing to give up some of their time to help their mates and families receive the newer assistance now available through RSLWA.
So this is, in effect, is a call to Arms to our newer Veterans: please, if you can, offer a small amount of your time and experience to get involved with a Sub-Branch near to you.
We’ve included a list of 34 Sub-Branches (you’ll find their contact numbers here) who have replied to RSLWA saying they will welcome you with open arms. Please get in touch with them, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much there is to gain from the experience.
Sub-Branches Looking for Younger Veterans
(As at 12 November, 2019)
- Canning Districts
- Victoria Park
- North Beach
- Osborne Park
- Mosman Park
- Bedford Morley
- Mount Hawthorn
- Mt Lawley-Inglewood
- Quinn’s Rock
- Port Hedland
- Lancelin and Coastal
- Bakers Hill
- Returned ex-Servicewomen
And recently added: Wanneroo