As Remembrance Day approaches once again, it’s timely to reflect on what a significant and sometimes challenging time of year it can be for veterans. The day always comes with mixed emotions – pride and gratitude that the service and sacrifice is not forgotten, but also grief and torment as painful memories are brought once again to the surface. But there is no day more poignant, or more appropriate for those emotions to be expressed than Remembrance Day. 

As usual, Remembrance Day will be marked by the 1 minute silence at 11 am, preceded by the playing of The Last Post on the bugle, performed by a uniformed musician. This will last a minute or two, followed by other significant pieces of music, which can differ from one location to the next. Wreaths containing poppies are laid during the ceremony and often seen for some days after Nov 11th as a lingering tribute. Those wanting to pay their respect for Remembrance Day can wear a poppy in memory of the fallen, on the right side of their chest, pointing towards their heart. The poppies were the first flowers to return to the battlefields the following spring after the war. Their dramatic red colour is symbolic of the blood that spilled, and their black centre signifies mourning. 

The commemorations on the 11th November mark the end of fighting after WWI, but for many veterans, there is still a fight within, as they struggle to sustain a ‘normal’ life after service. Many who have served our country with distinction find it difficult to adjust to civilian life without support from the government or other welfare agencies. This is particularly the case where housing is concerned, with Veterans dramatically overrepresented in the Australian homeless population. 

This is why both Carry On and Veteran Housing Australia are so committed to helping veterans and their families, get help where they need it most – through advocacy, education, relief, and financial support. Their shared vision however focuses on housing. VHA’s vision is to end Veteran homelessness in Australia and both organisations believe that secure and safe housing provides Veterans and their families with a stable base from which they can thrive.

Learning to thrive in the new version of your life can be hard, but there are small ways you can make progress. An extremely important aspect of Remembrance Day globally is the presence of rituals. From card tables on the street selling poppies, to the precision of marches, ceremonies, and silence falling across the nation. Adopting rituals into everyday life is a great way to help ease the burden, and to regain control of circumstances that can often feel tenuous. This might be as simple as walking to the shops to buy the paper each morning, or as energetic is an exercise class, or participation in a regular community event. It doesn’t matter how small or elaborate they may be, what’s important is that they are meaningful and useful to you. Learning to take things one day at a time, carve out time and moments for your own self-care, and hold the people you love close is the best approach you can take for long-term mental health and wellness.  

For more than 100 years, the annual Poppy Appeal has supported Australian veterans and their families. Show your support for veterans this Remembrance Day by buying a poppy here 👉  Poppy Appeal