Liz Cosson - Being a veteran
When I look at my service history, and 20 years serving before I was selected to go to Bougainville, in Papua New Guinea, and I know that when I was asked to go, there was this moment of apprehension.
But there was also this, "Oh, my goodness me, I've been trained for this. This is what I wanted to do for 20 years". And you do, you serve to do what you need to do for your country and if you find some, as you pointed out, feel that they haven't served because they haven't deployed or they haven't had war like service - and I was talking to a senator recently and I'd listened to his maiden speech, and he said to me, and I mentioned to him I'd heard part of his maiden speech, and he said, "Did anything struck a chord with you?" And I said, "Yes, you're a veteran?" And he said, "No, I'm not". And I said to him, "I'm sure you're a veteran, I was listening to your speech". He said, "Oh, no, I never had operational service". And I said, "Senator, you're a veteran."
He'd served in East Timor and he'd served for many years in our Australian army but he didn't relate that to being a veteran, and that's something that we have really focused on in this department that we have, we rely on a volunteer defence force, to put up your hand to say that you will serve.
And if you need to, you will make that sacrifice for our freedoms and our values. And I said to him, "You are a veteran", and I want to make sure that message always gets out to anybody that has served. You go through all the training and you, every year, you step up to say I am prepared and I'm ready to deploy, and you go through all the tests, all the fitness, all the medicals, and all that readiness training that you do every year to say I am ready to deploy. And that is such a powerful thing, you need to own that and be proud of that