Keeping comradeship alive

DENNIS Camplin, Alf Curtis and his brother, Barrie Curtis, have seen ``the blackness'' of war play out over generations.

The Launceston men have stories of dead father figures and friends, addiction, suicide, physical disability, ruined livelihoods, and the late-night gardening of an old man trying to forget.

But the men said Anzac Day could help veterans and their families, and was an important opportunity for Australians to offer recognition and support.

Yesterday they joined up to 7000 people at the dawn service at Launceston's Royal Park.

Mr Camplin, who like his friend, Barrie Curtis, served in Vietnam with the Royal Australian Navy, said the day offered hope to veterans who continued to struggle with the effects of war, and helped keep comradeship alive.

``You might not think you need help, but you've got to think that something like this helps you reconnect and think that there's something worthwhile to go on for,'' Mr Camplin said.

``There are a lot of good blokes out there who are suffering, and women, because they feel they're not understood.

``Some people can't see a way out of the blackness - and that's what it is.''

Mr Camplin said he'd seen veterans die from alcohol abuse, contemplate suicide, and struggle with physical and mental illness.

He said his father-in-law, who served in World War I, had struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder until his death at 85 years old.

``He was a gardener, that was good for him, and he was out there until 10 o'clock at night with his torch,'' Mr Camplin said.

``That's the way he tried to get over it.''

Alf Curtis said his own father was injured during World War I, at the age of 21, and died from the same injury at 63 years old.

He said he narrowly avoided going to war himself, being a month too old for conscription to Vietnam.

``But one of my mates went, didn't come back,'' Mr Curtis said.

``He didn't want to go, he didn't come back.

``All war stories are terrible.''

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