The grey skies on Monday suited the mood as veterans from Jerrabomberra, Cooma, Bega and beyond gathered on the lawns in front of this place.
Those women and men slept a little easier last night knowing that a Royal Commission into veteran suicide passed the House of Representatives unopposed.
For too long we have been aware that the suicide rate among our veterans is nearly twice that of the general population.
As we approach ANZAC Day – the Prime Minister needs to respect the will of this Parliament and do the right thing and give the grieving families of veterans the proper investigation they deserve.
It’s been my privilege to listen to MPs on both side of this chamber talk about their own experiences – can I particularly acknowledge the Member for Solomon, Luke Gosling.
Goz drew on the words of Russ Swan, a Vietnam veteran from Darwin.
“Consider this,” Russ asks.
“You sign up to serve your country, and as a result, afterwards, you’re so disillusioned you’d rather die than live and enjoy being a grandfather or a grandmother.”
Simply heartbreaking words that need to galvanise our work.
Those efforts start with this Royal Commission.
As we stand at dawn this ANZAC Day – as always let us acknowledge those who have served in our Defence forces – but with a special focus, let’s remember the women and men who have suffered the despair that Russ from Darwin points to – and the people they leave behind.
To the veterans still living with that sadness.
Please know that you are loved and needed. Please reach out and get the support that is rightfully yours.
Photo: Speaking with veterans on the lawns of Parliament House.
Mental health and wellbeing support for current and ex-serving Australian Defence Force personnel and their families is available via 'Open Arms - 24 hour counselling for Australian veterans and their families' on 1800 011 046.
Media contact: Ian Campbell, phone: 0417 482 171