Vets meet ahead of their day
ABOUT a dozen Vietnam Veterans gathered on a rural property near Woodgate last week to talk about old times ahead of Vietnam Veterans Day today.
Pacific Haven resident Roger Dwyer gathered a group of mates from the same 1968 National Service intake for a reunion on his rural property.
They came from as far north as Boyne Island and as far south as Brisbane to get away from it all, talk about the past and how they were going and to do some fishing.
Mr Dwyer is one of many veterans who have succumbed to post-traumatic stress which is one of many disabilities carried by returned soldiers.
He said he was lucky to come out the other side and be able to now carry on a “reasonably normal life”.
Mr Dwyer was able to get help thanks to numerous people, most of all his wife Deborah who told him for many years there was something wrong with him.
But his reply often was: “It’s all those other people not me”.
“I really have to thank the advocate at Maryborough RSL who I had first contact with who strongly suggested I attend a post-traumatic course at Toowong Mental Hospital in Brisbane which I duly attended for three months,” Mr Dwyer said.
“The course and its professional staff were extremely efficient with their knowledge of Vietnam vets.
“However, I realised as I was finishing the course, most of those attending had nowhere to go afterwards to gain peace and solitude if and when the black dog returned which is still on a regular basis.”
Mr Dwyer is fortunate to own a 40-acre bush property near Woodgate and was able to go there for seclusion.
It prompted him to think and ask what about the others.
At a previous reunion, he suggested the idea of a rural retreat to some of his mates who all agreed it would be a good idea.
With help, he cleared a road into his property sufficient for a few small caravans and camper trailers, opened up a camping ground and installed an old caravan and awning with camping and barbecue facilities nearby.
“This is all we need – peace and solitude,” Mr Dwyer said.
He aims to make it an annual get-together and said he had approached several politicians and RSL clubs to start up a national scheme of similar retreats to assist veterans.
Vietnam Veterans’ Day will be celebrated in Hervey Bay with a march from the RSL club in Pialba starting at 10.45am to Freedom Park in Main Street.
A memorial service follows at 11am culminating in the release of doves and wreath-laying ceremony.
In Maryborough, a ceremony will be held at the cenotaph in Queens Park at 11am.
‘I realised ... most of those attending had nowhere to go afterwards to gain peace and solitude if and when the black dog returned which is still on a regular basis’