Veterans are appreciated

Appreciation and recognition of Defence Force veterans and their contributions to our country took place at the Gilbert Gordon Reserve in Woodend on Saturday.
The Woodend-Hesket versus Riddell senior football match and accompanying ceremonies and speeches celebrated current and former district defence personnel and their service to the nation in a local sporting environment.
The inaugural initiative of the Woodend-Hesket Football Club, in conjunction with the Woodend RSL Sub-branch and the Central Highlands Vietnam Veterans Association, was also in the context of the federal and state governments seeking to recognise the service of and express appreciation and support with the focus on younger veterans.
Woodend RSL president Peter Whitelaw described it as “a unique situation” whereby a community group (football netball club) had sought to recognise veterans, and thereby reflect the celebration of military service by the wider community.
He said such initiatives provided an invaluable sense of community support and respect to veterans, many of whom were still struggling with the effects of their service.
Formalities took place before the senior football match, with both teams and umpires assembled on the oval in front of the pavilion.
Football-netball club president Paul Podbury extended an official welcome to all, summarising why the club had decided on such an initiative.
Mayor Janet Pearce said the shire council was very supportive of the initiative of the sporting club to reach out to the RSL and veterans.
“We know this club is like a family, interested in health and inclusiveness, and bringing everyone together,” Cr Pearce said.
RSL sub-branch committee member Matt Sanderson also addressed the gathering, and members of the Woodend Warblers and Young Voices of Woodend sang the National Anthem and other contributions.
During the half-time break, former Special Air Service Regiment member Ryan Oswin spoke of some of the experiences of defence personnel and peacekeepers and thanked the football-netball club for involving veterans and the community.
At the conclusion of the match, Central Highlands Vietnam Veterans Association president Ken Bryce commended the club on its initiative, and said the expression of community support for veterans would go a long way in assisting their rehabilitation and recovery.

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