Members of the Mudgeeraba light horse troop take part in the Anzac dawn service on April 25, 2018 in Currumbin, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
Members of the Mudgeeraba light horse troop take part in the Anzac dawn service on April 25, 2018 in Currumbin, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

‘This is a national tragedy, we must do more’

DON'T just care for us on Anzac Day, help us through all the tough days of our lives.

That was the sobering message to a crowd of more than 20,000 people at yesterday's Anzac Day dawn service at Currumbin, who were warned the high suicide rate of returned veterans was a "national tragedy".

In a ceremony characterised by its theme of passing the torch from older veterans to the young, Gold Coaster Andy Cullen said the annual commemoration services were tough for both himself and other returned servicemen.

The Currumbin Dawn Service (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
The Currumbin Dawn Service (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

While emphasising the importance of Anzac Day's role in remembering the fallen, he said more was needed to be done to care for veterans through the rest of the year.

"Anzac Day serves as a reminder of the friends lost, sacrifices made and wounds which remained unhealed," said the Afghan veteran.

"Nobody can underestimate the price which has been paid by individuals and families and the one which continues to be paid."

The 41-year-old Tallai resident was one of the keynote speakers at yesterday morning's packed service and directed his comments to all veterans present.

"Between 2001 and 2016 there were 373 recorded suicides in the ADF community," he said.

"This is a national tragedy and we must do more to help the families of those who continue to suffer.

 

"My message to veterans is this: Do not lose hope. We are a unique family with an unbeatable bond through our shared service.

"Do not isolate yourself. Life is not meant to be done alone. It is meant to be done as a community.

"You can get better, your life can improve. You are loved."

This year's commemorations marked a century since most of Australia's World War I forces returned home after four years of conflict in Europe, as well as the 80th anniversary of the beginning of World War II.

Some of the crowd at Currumbin. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
Some of the crowd at Currumbin. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

The service also represented a passing of the torch moment, with it led by new RSL president Michael Humphreys who has taken over for longstanding master of ceremonies Ron Workman.

During the ceremony, the ashes of 33 Diggers, primarily World War II veterans, were laid to rest at sea off Currumbin by crew members from the Currumbin Vikings surf boats.

The burial at sea was accompanied by a piper playing Amazing Grace.

Mr Humphreys, who served in the navy for 20 years from the 1970s to the 1990s, said it was essential for the public to know that veterans needed to be cared for not just on Anzac Day but throughout their lives.

"Anzac Day is a time of reflection and we commemorate those we lost, but I wanted to emphasise those who came back and the damage which was done to their lives," he said.

More than 20,000 people attended the dawn service. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
More than 20,000 people attended the dawn service. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

"It is a lifetime cost. The past four years we have had the commemorations of the First World War but this year we sat down and thought about the returning soldiers of 1919 and the Lost Generation.

"I wanted to highlight what happens when you come home - it's something universal to all veterans."

At Coomera, the morning service focused on unity and togetherness.

The moving ceremony. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
The moving ceremony. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Master of ceremonies Tony Lines urged locals to remember the men and women still serving overseas as well as those who had given their lives over the years in conflict and peacekeeping missions.

The Australian and New Zealand national anthems were performed by local schoolchildren while both flags were raised at the cenotaph.

A crowd of more than 1000 paused to pay special tribute to the 29 soldiers from the Coomera region who lost their lives in the First and Second World Wars, as well as Trooper David "Poppy'' Pearce, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2007.

Earlier at Coomera, about 1500 people attended the dawn service.



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