Shoulder to shoulder with you, on ANZAC Day and always

Anita Jaensch 24 April 2020

Despite COVID-19, RSL Queensland and the entire nation still stand shoulder to shoulder with veterans.

The period around ANZAC Day can be difficult for veterans. It’s a day of high emotions and, once it’s past, some may miss the camaraderie of their mates even more.

That’s why it’s especially important to remember that you are not alone. If there is one thing that the cancellation of traditional ANZAC Day services has shown us, it’s that our current and ex-serving Defence members have a special place in the hearts of the Australian public.

This year, ANZAC Day will be different. Thousands of Australians will still gather – united in spirit, if not physically – to remember all those who have served this nation. But we will miss the feeling of togetherness, of standing shoulder to shoulder in dawn’s light listening to the bugler sounding The Last Post.

Mates4Mates psychologist Tamsin Wallace has given us five simple steps to manage the disappointment veterans might be experiencing at the moment:

Manage the emotion

Acknowledge the emotion. It’s important that you allow yourself to observe the different thoughts, feelings, emotions, memories, sensations and urges that the day brings up for you. While doing this, come back into your body. You can do this by slowly breathing, stretching out your arms, back and neck, or engaging in a body scan

Don’t take it personally

When things do not go to plan many people are ready to attribute negative life events to our own personal failings. It is important to remember that many people are dealing with their own disappointment right now and this is not personal

Review expectations

Given the COVID-19 pandemic it is helpful to adjust expectations for ANZAC Day 2020 in comparison to other years. Review your expectations. Are they unrealistic? Perhaps they could be adjusted a little to cope with this new reality. Are these expectations serving you currently?

Take a big picture perspective

Take this time to reflect. Take some time to explore what is happening for you and the connection to ANZAC Day; what it means to you and what it has taught you. Talk to a friend, family or a psychologist if required. Talking to someone can help you recover, re-evaluate, gain insight and clarity.

Try again or try an alternative

Having followed these steps, it is now time to make an important decision about what to do next and how to act. Focus on what is in your control. This might mean commemorating ANZAC Day differently to previous years. We might not be able to control our feelings of disappointment, but we are able to control our actions. Let your actions be guided by your values associated with ANZAC Day.

Most of all, remember that we are all in this together.

If you are struggling, please reach out to your friends or family members, or call RSL Queensland on 134 RSL or Mates4Mates on 13004MATES.

If you are in urgent need of help over the weekend, please call Open Arms on 1800 011 046. Their counsellors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.