Coming home isn't always easy

A RETURNED Launceston serviceman believes more still needs to be done to help reintegrate people back into society after conflict and that children need to learn more about Anzac Day.

Tony Keefe was 18 when he joined the army and later posted to the 5th/7th mechanised infantry battalion.

He was deployed in Butterworth, Malaysia, for three months in 1997, did a six-week exchange to Hawaii the following year and went on to serve seven months in East Timor when conflict broke out in 1999.

Mr Keefe, who is a member of the Westbury RSL and will MC the town's 11am Anzac Day service on Friday, said his role in East Timor was to ensure law and order and a smooth transition into a temporary governance.

He assisted many locals in getting first aid and came across numerous mass graves.

``There were times when things got a little bit interesting but I'd been in the infantry battalion for 3sfr1/2 years by this stage, so I had done a lot of training and was well prepared,'' Mr Keefe said.

He said one of the hardest things was everything was still happening back home.

His battalion was on the Jervis Bay when his mate's 18-month-old son died of SIDS.

``There was a group of about six of us who spent a lot of time together before, after and during, so that was one of the toughest things for us as a group,'' he said.

The toughest thing personally for Mr Keefe was returning home in September 2000.

``I came back and I started in a security role and I worked at Ashley Detention Centre for all up 10 years,'' Mr Keefe said.

``You go up and say [to the youth] can you do this for me and they say `nar, do it yourself' _ it's a bit of a shock.

``You're so used to if someone tells you to do something it's done, or if you ask someone to do something, they do it.''

Mr Keefe said more needed to be done to help those returning from conflict to decrease the high rate of suicide among returned servicemen.

He said the Westbury RSL was great for support, but for others across the country, support wasn't as easy to find.

He said it would also be great if more RSL sub-branches introduced a Little Diggers Club, like the Westbury RSL had to ``teach children what Anzac Day and Remembrance Day is all about''.

Mr Keefe said it was important that people not only remembered those who served in World Wars I and II on Anzac Day but also those in Vietnam, Afghanistan, East Timor, Rwanda, Iraq, Borneo and many more.

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