Letter to the Editor
At 18 years old, I joined the Australian Army and served in an infantry battalion from February 1972 until August 1975. I joined up to learn a trade and was advised to enlist for a 6-year period.
I only completed 3½ years of my 6-year enlistment, as I had the opportunity to buy a newsagency and it was an offer too hard to refuse. I applied for discharge and it was granted. My discharge was honourable, my service satisfactory, and my military conduct was deemed as very good.
Recently, I applied to receive an Australian Defence Medal (ADM) for my service. My application was denied as I didn’t complete my enlistment period and I was not discharged on medical grounds. Ironically, if I had signed up for 3 years, I would have received the medal. I fully accepted the decision of the Directorate of Honours and Awards, and didn’t wish to take it to the review tribunal.
Today, when the men and women of the Australian Defence Force march on Anzac Day, they wear their ADM proudly. Not because they showed valour, or went over and above the call of duty, but for the sheer pride of being recognised as a professional soldier and member of the ADF either past or present.
I would have also worn the ADM with pride if I had been eligible to receive it. But not having it, I have often felt that I don’t ‘deserve’ to march on Anzac Day. I often wonder whether other veterans out there feel the same way, and have been put off marching for that reason. I reckon anyone who serves, whether they have medals or not, should feel proud of their service. I would even go so far as to suggest that in the absence of a medal, veterans wear their white service number patch.