New Albany RSL service set to honour and engage younger Australian Defence Force veterans

Stuart McGuckinAlbany Advertiser
Sub Branch Albany RSL president Rex Hendrix.
Camera IconSub Branch Albany RSL president Rex Hendrix. Credit: Laurie Benson

In a bid to keep it from becoming “an old fart’s club”, the Albany RSL sub-branch is adding a new service to its already busy calendar that will honour younger veterans who have served the Australian Defence Force in any capacity since 1973.

The idea was developed to recognise those who have served in the past 50 years, for whom no established service exists.

Albany RSL president Rex Hendrix said he hoped the service, which will be held on February 18 at the South East Asia Memorial Area in the Princess Royal Fortress precinct, would be a way to “engage the younger veterans back into the RSL”.

“It’s trying to liven up the RSL so that it’s not just an old fart’s club by getting in that next generation coming through,” he said.

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Since 1973 ADF personnel have served in several overseas conflicts including Somalia, Rwanda, Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as peace operations in Bougainville and the Solomons.

The service will also be a way of recognising the contributions of countless ADF members who have served in full-time or part-time roles within Australia over those 50 years.

Mr Hendrix, who was an army mechanic, was key to developing the idea, which he said was important to him because “this is my era”.

“I was lucky enough never to have to serve overseas but a lot of my friends did,” he said.

“I’ve lost friends, and I’ve had friends come back not right.

“This is very important to me just because I have lost mates and have some that are still struggling.”

He said the RSL was a place for personnel of different eras to talk about their shared experience.

“It’s engaging those guys and then being able to help them when and if they need it,” he said.

“It’s also making sure they are not forgotten by recognising their service.”

The concept has already received strong support from many different corners of the community.

Over the coming month, the RSL sub-branch hopes to reach as many people as possible with links to the ADF.

“If it’s family or friends that have served and you want to respect that then by all means come along,” Mr Hendrix said.

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