Army connects with isolated veterans to commemorate Anzac Day


TODAY RSL Queensland members who have been isolated due to coronavirus restrictions have received phone calls from Australian Army personnel to check on their welfare and swap stories.

RSL Queensland have teamed up with Brisbane's 7th Combat Brigade for the Virtual Veteran Visit initiative to identify a number of veterans who could benefit from a phone call from a currently serving member, and connect as they usually would on Anzac Day.

Minister for Veterans' Affairs and Defence Personnel, Darren Chester said with the cancelation of Anzac Day services around Australia, there would be many people at risk of feeling isolated on a day Australians normally come together, and this initiative was one way to keep veterans connected.

"While Australians traditionally gather in large numbers, at its heart, Anzac Day is always a moment of personal reflection," Mr Chester said.

"The Virtual Veteran Visit initiative enables the connection between current serving members and veterans to be maintained during these challenging times.
"The phone calls may seem like a small gesture from our current serving members, however due to the coronavirus pandemic and the need to stay home, it is more important than ever that we find ways for our veterans to still be able to commemorate Anzac Day.

"While Anzac Day will look different this year, I encourage all Australians to take time to pause and reflect on the service and sacrifice of the over 102,000 Australians who have died in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations in a way that is meaningful to them."

Each of the selected veterans has provided information about their service history which will enable personnel from 7th Combat Brigade to personalise their conversation with each veteran.

RSL Queensland General Manager Veteran Services Rob Skoda said 7th Brigade's initiative was a great example of the bonds that existed between all those who have served.

"We are very grateful that 7th Brigade has made this effort to reach out to our veteran community during these uncertain times," Mr Skoda said.

"Many of our older veterans particularly look forward to Anzac Day, which gives them an opportunity not only to connect with their old mates, but to interact with younger, current serving servicemen and women as well.

"I know that many of them are feeling the loss of this social interaction, especially those who have been isolated by the COVID-19 restrictions.

"Virtual Veteran Visits will ensure that they know that — despite the current unusual circumstances — they have not been forgotten."

This year, all Australians are encouraged to tune in to the nationally televised Anzac Day commemorative service at the Australian War Memorial.  The coverage will be broadcast nationally on ABC from 5am.

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