WHEN Crib Point RSL vice-president Chris Morrissey reflects on Anzac Day, he feels a mix of respect, sadness and pride towards the selfless commitments of all veterans.
The Royal Australian Navy veteran who has travelled to seven war zones says Anzac Day just “makes a lot of sense” and ensures that anybody who has served is recognised for the efforts and sacrifices they made.
“It makes me proud when I see the community come together, especially the children, to pay their respects to people have served,” he said.
“For some it’s a time a great sadness, as there are definitely difficult memories, and for many it’s just wonderful to see everyone come together – it’s a different time for everybody.
“But for most it’s a time of great honour, and a time to reflect with the community.”
Morrissey, who like many veterans has been diagnosed with PTSD, said it was heart-warming to be part of the RSL, which provides a safe and welcoming place for the veteran community and their families.
“The memories of conflict never go way, people just learn to deal with them, but with the incredible support of the RSL and the mates you meet, it’s easier to get through,” he said.
“Even for strong people who are leaders in community, the stress and memories of what they have experienced can be overwhelming, so support and friendship is essential. “I’m a great believer that the more good memories you can help create, the less impact the bad memories will have.”
Morrissey said Crib Point RSL joined with Flinders RSL last year – which was struggling to survive and didn’t have a dedicated club room – and had taken the four veterans from Flinders under its wing for support services.
“What we provide at this RSL is a really strong support base for veterans, but also the wider community,” he said.
“We don’t have pokies, we just provide a great place to be and want everyone to enjoy being part of it.”
He said the club recently welcomed an influx of young male and female sailors who had embraced the RSL community.
“I recently asked the girls what they liked about the club, and they said they felt safe here, and that’s really lovely for us to know that we provide a safe space for all people who have been part of the defence forces,” Morrissey said.
He said Crib Point RSL was supported in holding its dawn service by personnel from HMAS Cerberus, which did not hold a dawn service.
He said Anzac Day at Crib Point was always attended by around 250, including children and families, and there was a traditional gunfire breakfast, two services, a march to the cenotaph, plenty of food, a bar and the popular two up game.