A new memorial honouring the mothers, wives, partners and families of Australia’s war veterans is now taking pride of place at the Gosford Memorial Garden.
On March 30, members of the Central Coast Sub-Branch of The Partners of Veterans’ Association of Australia NSW Branch gathered together with their husbands, many of them veterans of the Vietnam War, and some war widows, for the dedication of the memorial – For Those Who Stand Beside Them.
Sub-branch President, Robyn Creswell, told guests, who included Member for Robertson, Lucy Wicks, and Association Patron, Lady Lynne Cosgrove, that the dedication of the memorial was timely.
“It is 107 years since Australians went to the ‘war to end all wars’, 82 years since World War II and next year will mark 60 years since the first Australians went to assist the South Vietnamese,” Creswell said.
“We must (also) not forget the Boer War, Korea, the Malay Emergency, the Gulf Wars, Afghanistan or the peacekeeping sojourns in Rwanda and Timor.
“Our soldiers performed their tasks valiantly, whether-or-not achieving victory, but on the whole returning to their families plagued by the memories of these battles because, unfortunately, war does not end on the battlefield.
“In Australia we are lucky that the government tries to look after our veterans, but they can only do so much.”
Creswell said much fell to the partners and families living with veterans trying to cope with their “war caused” disabilities, including PTSD, depression and often physical wounds, to help them fit back into the community.
“Traditionally the ‘partners’ have been the carers in the family unit and, as such, they have been the ones to tend to their veteran’s needs. which can affect the whole family,” she said.
“The partner, being the carer for all the family, is often caught in the middle and has to play a balancing act while being there for the veteran and trying to bring understanding to the children and, hopefully, passing on the ability to care.
“It was realised some 23 years ago that these partners needed help.
“There is no one else who really understands what ‘walking on eggshells’ in a military family is really like other than another partner of a veteran.
“We could not get the Gold Card or any formal recognition as only the veterans and the children were covered by the (Veterans’ Entitlement) Act.
“The Central Coast Support Group decided to do something about it and in 1999, with the help of the Vietnam Veteran Counselling Service and a small grant from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, managed to contact five other groups from across NSW and organised a conference at Myall Lakes.
“From here The Partners of Veterans Association of NSW was formed … and went on (to become) the PVA of Australia with branches in all states.”
Creswell said the PVA was a member of the Alliance of Defence Service Organisations, which also includes many of Australia’s major military ex-service organisations.
“We are your voice and over the past 22 years have contributed enormously to the recognition of partners and families, gaining many of the benefits that we receive today,” she said.
“And that is why … it’s time to recognise these partners and families who proudly stand beside their veterans, be it for a few months or a lifetime, as they fight their ongoing battles.”
Media release, Apr 2
PVA of Australia Central Coast sub-branch