“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Theodore Roosevelt

When you read those words do you wonder about what prompted them?  I don’t.  You see, I’ve been in the arena. 

I know what it’s like to carry kit on your back for day after back-breaking day, to go hungry because when it comes to prioritising your load, water and ammunition trump food every.  single.  time.

But how many times do we see decisions in government – regardless of what level of government – being made by people who just don’t have a clue what it’s like to do the job they are making decisions about?

At the very start, the Department of Veterans Affairs was mostly staffed by veterans.  It ran efficiently. 

The diggers got a fair shake.  Why?  Because the people making the decisions knew exactly what the claimant was talking about. 

Dare I say it – empathy played a major part in the process.  Sadly, over time the veterans retired or moved on; to be replaced by career public servants who just don’t have that same level of empathy.  How could they?

I suggest if the situation were reverted back to its original dynamic we wouldn’t have anywhere near the same number of problems with veteran suicide we face today.

There is a clip on YouTube from the UK where civilians are invited to fill backpacks with 1kg bags of sugar to simulate the weight carried by troops on operations. 

Variations include, fighting order, patrol order, marching order etc.  Very few of them can take a step, let alone run and none of them were carrying basic webbing, weapon link belt for the gun, radio, spare batteries, claymores, rocket launcher etc.

At the end of the clip is the caption “Support our troops this Armed Forces Day” and then there’s the date.

Given what we’ve seen out of the armchair generals in the ADF, they’d be horrified with that sentiment and would never authorise such a supportive clip to be launched on an official ADF channel.

If you asked them how many men and women are honoured at the Australian War Memorial, I suspect most couldn’t answer. 

The correct number is around 102,000.  Over one hundred thousand soldiers, sailors, airmen and nurses have made the ultimate sacrifice in order that we enjoy the freedoms and choices that a lot of us take for granted every day.

At the daily Last Post Ceremony at the Australian War Memorial, Charles Bean’s words are quoted.

When he refers to the last thoughts of a wounded soldier dying at Poziere or Gallipoli he suggests it is something like, “Well….. well, it’s over.  But in Australia, they will be proud of this…”

The problem is, that the majority of us aren’t.

The majority of locally-born Australians couldn’t give a s@#t.  The majority of locally-born Australians are a disgrace to the sacrifice made by those 100,000+ people who selflessly laid down their lives so we could live in a free democracy. 

They would be aghast at the antics of politicians who can’t wait to sell us all out to the Chinese government. 

I say “locally-born Australians” because I don’t expect a great deal of patriotism from migrants. 

Yet sadly, they are sometimes more patriotic than those who are born here.  I suspect because they appreciate what we have more than we do.

I’ve noticed a lot of the ratbags who demonstrate against this country and spout the joys of communism have never lived in a communist country.

And I don’t mean visited one as a tourist, I mean actually lived in one.  If they had, they wouldn’t be so quick to denigrate our great nation.

As our major party politicians lurch sickeningly to the left and can’t wait to be the next one to espouse some woke idea in the hope it will get them re-elected, spare a thought for those who delivered these rights and benefits. 

Not too many veterans are left-leaning.  Why?

Well, they remember the unions preventing ships with stores and ammunition being loaded for the New Guinea campaign. 

They remember when the emaciated former POWs of the Japanese were returned to Australia on hospital ships, the unions would not allow them to berth so the veterans could be taken to hospital.

They remember the unions who would not load ammunition and stores onto ships going to Vietnam.

Is it any wonder the bulk of the veteran community think those on the left are akin to traitors? 

But, those lefties still get to enjoy the benefits of where they live – proudly delivered to them by the blood, sweat and tears of veterans.

Veterans are generally conservative because they’ve fought to conserve what they hold near and dear. 

They fought to protect our way of life – not to allow some interlopers to come in and destroy it all before their children and grandchildren can enjoy what has been given to them courtesy of the sacrifices made by their parents and grandparents.

Using the DVA experience mentioned above, I dream of a country ruled by politicians different to the ones we have now.

Where the lower house of parliament is populated by politicians who are former first-responders.

You know, police, firemen, ambos, nurses, SES and DRA workers.  Those who’ve always been close to the community. 

The upper house?  Well, that would be populated mostly by veterans.  Of course, there might be some “mix and matching” between the two and there might be some other professions represented but it’s my dream and I’ll populate it with those who I want to populate it with, OK?

I suggest things would run more smoothly than the debacle we see in our state and federal parliaments now.  What do you think?