THERE’S more to the Returned Services League than a few old Diggers sitting around enjoying a beer and remembering their wartime days.
Generations of younger former military personnel have never entered the doors of their local RSL and were missing out on the camaraderie and benefits of the 98-year-old support organisation, according to Warrnambool sub-branch president John Miles.
He has sounded a call to action for post-1975 personnel, serving and non-serving, to come and lead the annual Anzac Day march.
“We want younger members to join us,” Mr Miles said.
“Unfortunately, there’s probably still a perception the RSL is for old fogies, but it’s not.
“We know there are younger former service people in our community, but we can’t get their names from the military organisations because of privacy laws.
“Hopefully we can attract people who have been in peacekeeping forces in East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan.
“We are here to help and can assist them get all their entitlements.”
Mr Miles recalled his personal experience after returning from the Vietnam War and feeling shunned by society and the RSL. “I wasn’t treated too well at first, but the RSL has moved on from those days,” he said.
“I’d love nothing better than to get younger people in our ranks and join our leadership committee.
“The RSL is for all veterans — it is their club.
“With the Anzac centenary coming up next year we feel it is important to broaden the involvement.”
The Anzac Day march in Warrnambool usually attracts about 150 former service personnel from World War II, the Vietnam War, Korean War and Malayan conflicts plus partners and family members.
After this year’s 6am dawn service at the war memorial on April 25 the march will start at 10.45am and proceed down Liebig Street to the memorial for a traditional remembrance ceremony and speeches.
There will be no official function at the Lighthouse Theatre as in recent years.
“The outdoor ceremony will go on, rain, hail or shine,” Mr Miles said.
“We will have seating in a marquee for older people and there will be a new public address audio system.”
Mr Miles invited anyone interested in taking part in the march to contact him on 0408 569 798.