Reserve Forces Day 2017 pays tribute to sacrifice and courage of Australian Defence Force Reservists

Paying tribute to the sacrifices made by Australian Defence Force Reservists, a ceremony was held in Princes Square on Sunday for national Reserve Forces Day.

Serving and former servicemen and their families were joined by members of the Northern Tasmanian Living History Group and the 3rd Light Horse Historical Troop to recognise the courage and dedication of reservists throughout history.

Attendees listened to a recounting of the Australian Light Horse Charge of Beersheba in World War I, in which many Tasmanian soldiers participated.

The Australian Light Horse troops through World War I and the Boer War were bolstered in experience by civilian riders bringing their skills to the military, particularly in riding and shooting.

Historical re-enactor ‘Sergeant’ Neville Thomas of ‘C’ Squadron spoke on the maneouvers that brought Light Horse, including Tasmanian troops, to Beersheba, and sent them riding into battle with bayonets in hand.

Speaking on the particular challenges reservists face in the modern Defence Force, Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Farquhar emphasised the importance of community in improving veteran mental health.

“The nature of service now is that often people will go in as individual reinforcements, in particular in Reserves,” he said.

The changing face of service means that a reservist might be overseas in Afghanistan one day on active duty, and then having completed their tasks, returned to Australia two days later as a civilian.

“When you come out as a whole unit, there’s support around you – you come out as an individual, and then you’re plugged straight back in [to civilian life],” Lt Colonel Farquhar said.

“A lot of the stigma of mental health issues has been taken away [in the ADF] and some really strong leaders within the ADF have stood up.”

For the community at large, Lt-Col Farquhar said offering support and patience is key to helping ex-servicemen and women cope with the challenges of returning to civilian life.

“The broader community’s got a really important role, because if they’re able to identify it and encourage people, and if employers are prepared to give some of these guys a go, it might be a bit of a drag to start with, but it really helps them to get better and be effective members of society,” he said.