Forcing airlines to salute veterans helps Canberra, not veterans

Yesterday, Scott Morrison announced that veterans who fly Virgin Australia will be thanked for their service. We need lasting psychological care, not an empty salute.



As it seems, we veterans are currently being discussed on a national level. Alongside the War Memorial getting a $500m facelift, the Prime Minister sanctioned a push to give those who served a hoo-roo prior to flights taking off.



It bristles some because it sounds like American nonsense, but it should absolutely bristle all as it is a move made by Canberra for Canberra. It’s to curry election favour, not seek meaningful change. These moves are clearly the wrong ones, as they’re completely beyond the realities veterans face. We don’t need platitude or gaudy marble remembrance of those who didn’t come back. We already have that. What we don’t have, is a way to process the trauma we earned. Not to disparage those who didn’t come, as they were the reason why many of us made it back, but they don’t face the problems we do. Our war continues, a daily battle which never ends, completely devoid of an armistice. Many of us don’t have enough money to eat, or maintain shelter, let alone receive a salute from airline employees.

What we need, is ongoing psychological care, and an easier path to gain that assistance. We needed a greater safety net, and to rescue those who have already tumbled beyond the trap door of society. Recently, I wrote a piece that discussed the towering instances of suicide in those who served, where those lost far outnumbered those taken by the enemy.



If you want to help us, this should be the focus. The $31 million of government money donated to combat this systemic issue is a drop in a cavernous bucket. It’s nothing more than clickbait activism wearing a label of nationalism, or the uniform of an airline. Saluting us will not solve anything, it will just feel like it. The artificial voice loud over a microphone may magnify the official line, but the quiet passing of those who served does not register. Considering that the new program will primarily focus on the current wave of veterans and not those of previous wars, it’s difficult to compare the two figures and see the truth. The idea of the fallen soldier is romantic, as long as it remains in overseas trenches, not the loungerooms of suburbia.

$500m for a memorial, $31m for those who survived.

Forcing Virgin Australia to salute us might not cost a thing, but the cost felt by the close misappropriation of funds is a heavy price. The jingoism of current year clearly marches toward the election of next.

Morrison’s salute is nothing but a hollow platitude, one that hints at respect, but reveals the opposite.




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