Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In this Year of Mercy, I am writing to all Catholic parishes, schools and agencies and ask your consideration for a special acknowledgement to be afforded to veterans and their families in the Archdiocese during the week 22 – 30 October. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) has recently gazetted this as Veterans’ Health Week and wish to promote a theme of “social connection” for veterans to be embraced by the wider community.
On Anzac Day the Archdiocese has given due honour and recognition to those who have made the supreme sacrifice, but less attention is given to those who have served in our military, police, and emergency services, but still suffer as a result of their service. The Archdiocese has the highest concentration of veterans in Australia, with 70,000 living here, approximately 25% of all veterans nationally, and from DVA figures, some 35,000 of these experience some form of disability as a result of their service. Some 30,000 young veterans of very recent conflicts live among us in the Archdiocese. For them the war never ends, as they watch with despair as Afghanistan and Iraq decline into anarchy, into war without end. Almost every week one young veteran commits suicide.
All parishes have veterans, and most Catholic schools have children of veterans and every Catholic agency supports veterans or their families, but their veteran status might go unnoticed. In healing the wounds of war and conflict and the frequent disintegration of family life subsequently, intentional prayer, recognition and appreciation can play a big part. In solidarity with veterans and their families, I would ask that the Archdiocese acknowledge Veterans’ Health Week with the following possible responses:
- Parishes acknowledge veterans at Mass on Sunday 23 October with some intercessions for veterans and their families;
- Catholic schools acknowledge children of veterans and explore veteran issues in projects during the week of 24 – 28 October;
- Catholic agencies, especially hospitals, nursing homes and care facilities, identify and acknowledge their veteran clients during Veterans’ Health Week. Our chaplain to the ex-service community Deacon Gary Stone and his staff at the Veterans’ Care Association (www.veteranscare.com.au) will assist with resources or materials. DVA will also provide grants of up to $750 to any community organisation who host a function honouring veterans and their families. Veterans’ Care staff would like to hear of the activities planned to make the veteran community aware and would appreciate it if you could please email details to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I commend the work of the Veterans’ Care Association. They are a community of committed Catholic veterans, working voluntarily and relying on sponsorship for resources to minister to our veterans. Perhaps some activities this week could assist in sponsorship of veterans in their rehabilitation programmes.
Your graciousness in responding mercifully will be greatly appreciated by our veterans and their families and will show the face of compassion to the wider community.
As always in the Lord,
Archbishop of Brisbane