This Autumn 2013 edition of defence family matters is about the supports that are available to Defence families during deployment.
Time apart from family due to deployments, training or other Service requirements is an integral feature of Defence life, and it’s good to know that there is a wealth of information and resources out there to give families the extra support they need when their ADF member is away from home.
Our cover story for this edition addresses the sensitive issue of mental health—not just of the deployed ADF member, but of the family members at home. Good mental health is mission critical for the ADF, and there are a range of mental health supports available to serving personnel and family members alike—see page 31 for details.
It’s inspiring to hear Defence families’ stories of their deployment experience. On page 19 our regular contributor Jasmine Jarvis explains how she surprised even herself with her own strengths and community spirit while her husband was deployed.
Sara Boyle describes, on page 14, how the kindness and friendship from families she met through the Mactier Community Centre helped her manage when her husband was deployed in January, and on page 16 we chat to Amanda McEvoy about her experience in a Defence family and her time starting up the Queenscliff Defence Family Association.
These stories make one thing patently clear: Defence families are enduring, strong and courageous. Despite the challenges of the military way of life, they thrive, and it is true that the strength of the Australian Defence Force lies in the family. DCO’s welcome events are a celebration of this, and we hope you managed to get to one—see pages 6 to 9 to read about the welcome events held in your area.
Finally, take a look at our quirky book review on page 33 for a trip down memory lane with a visit from Jeeves! Ray Bromwich
A message from Linda Hurley
Patron of the Defence Community During the Australia Day celebrations I met a man who was singing the praises of Defence families. He had worked with Defence partners and had a sense of some of the challenges we face with our lifestyle. It was affirming to hear his heartfelt admiration for Defence families.
Many non-Defence families experience their partners or parents being absent from home because of their work. The big difference for Defence families is that their partners or parents are fighting in war or working in peacekeeping operations.
It is twenty years since my husband went on deployment to Somalia in Australia’s first big military deployment since Vietnam. Many deployments, including that one, left behind families whose lives changed forever because they lost loved ones on operation. I can only imagine what that is like because my man came home. I experienced an amazing sense of relief and joy when he returned—I hadn’t realised the underlying concern and worry that had been with me while he was gone.
I recently met a Vietnam veteran who shared some of his experiences with me. While he was serving in Vietnam his wife was in Australia with three young children—one of them born in his absence. He said that it was support from family and friends that helped her survive and keep going. This was also my personal experience. I had a wonderful neighbour who was there in the tough times, and the friendship of the other women in the battalion was immeasurably valuable to me. Together, we had a lot of fun! An invite to a dinner party with mixed adult conversation was always a great treat.
We have some amazing Defence families. I encourage all of us to reach out and be there for our families who have someone on deployment. It can make a huge difference to everyone.
Linda Hurley is the Patron for the Defence Community. Linda is married to the Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley, and has been part of a Defence family for over 30 years.