Dress to commemorate
I don't want to debate the whole misuse of alcohol and alcohol management issue as I think we are making inroads through the education of the negative effects drinking alcohol can have on not only the soldier, but society as a whole.
I also agree with the guidelines set out in the various publications when consuming alcohol, in particular the ADF Leaders Guide to Alcohol Management.
I find it hard to believe that soldiers are any worse than the other two services when it comes to alcohol-related incidences on Anzac Day. Or is this the beret debate all over again with Army personnel more prone to cancers when subjected to sunlight than their Navy and Air Force counterparts?
With the 100-year anniversary of the Gallipoli landing approaching, I feel it will be a shame that Aussie soldiers will not be able to enter licensed premises to share a few stories over a couple of social beverages (be it alcoholic or not) proudly wearing their uniforms alongside the Navy and Air Force personnel.
I am surprised that we don’t hear more from the RSL and other military representative bodies voicing their concerns when they don’t see Army personnel wearing their uniform after the march on Anzac Day.
I ask AHQ to rethink this policy leading up to April 25, 2015, and at the same time I ask all ORs, NCOs, SNCOs, WOs and officers to remember the Army’s core values of Courage, Initiative, Respect and Teamwork, as by following these four words we will guarantee to our commanders that we can be trusted while in uniform on Anzac Day.
WO1 Doug Wigg
RSM-A WO Dave Ashley responds:
Issues such as this where comments on discipline are made fall within my responsibility and influence.
I also have a particular perspective on this matter as Army’s senior ‘digger’, and as a soldier often involved in discussions with service groups about our soldiers embracing our former serving members and veteran organisations.
Anzac Day does not belong to Army – it is about service and veterans.
A common question posed to me by service organisations is ‘how can we make serving soldiers more active with us?’
I sense some of our soldiers do not feel fully worthy of those who served before us, or that they are not worthy ‘veterans’.
We are worthy and many of us are veterans of operational service. The wearing of uniform on duty and then dressing like the veterans that we are – jacket, tie and medals – for the following social engagement will foster our activity and relationship with service groups.
Former members will know we are members of Army – young, fit and wearing medals from East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan.
On Anzac Day other veterans will talk to us, they will know who we are, and observe for themselves.
I am also a serving veteran and if my responsibilities would allow, I would do my official duties in uniform and then change to jacket, tie and medals to reflect on service.
We have known each other for some time, and dressed like this in public.
Next year on my last Anzac Day still serving, I would be honoured to share a beer with you and any of those who read this reply.