Home front heroes get medals too

Sisters Eva, 5, and Elinor Whitehead, 1, were given medals for “perseverance” while dad Danny was overseas.
Sisters Eva, 5, and Elinor Whitehead, 1, were given medals for “perseverance” while dad Danny was overseas. Claudia Baxter

IT MIGHT be a small gesture, but the Ipswich RSL Sub Branch's recognition of children who have parents deployed overseas has brought joy to many.

The sub branch is the only one that presents children of deployed or recently returned Australian Defence Force parents with medallions noting their "perseverance on the home front".

The last presentation was held this week when about 30 children received their medallions and certificates from RSL representatives.

Two of the recipients at that ceremony were sisters Eva and Elinor Whitehead, aged five and one, whose father Danny recently returned from Afghanistan.

Proud mum Rhondda said the support of the RSL had been exceptional for the family throughout Danny's deployments, and that the medallions were a great gesture for the children.

"The kids are so chuffed. Eva thinks she is the bee's knees - she's really proud of it," Mrs Whitehead said. "It's the first time that they've had that. Eva's been through three deployments in her young life."

Mr Whitehead, who serves with 6th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (6RAR), said the kids weren't the only ones who thought the medallions were a nice touch.

He said deployed defence officers appreciated the gesture.

"It's really good for a lot of kids whose parents are away right now, to get that recognition," Mr Whitehead said. "Especially for those kids, it's a lot more beneficial."

The couple said they thought the medallion idea was something that would be greatly welcomed by other defence families if it was rolled out across Australia.

Donna Reggett, a veterans advocate from the Ipswich RSL Sub Branch, said the presentations also provided defence families a great opportunity to socialise with others who are experiencing a similar situation.

She said the sub branch was conscious of sacrifices made by families when one parent is deployed for a long period of time.

"This is just one way that they can show the troops overseas that they are supporting the families back home," she said.

"The children love to wear the medallion at school ceremonies on Anzac Day and Remembrance Day."

Topics:  australian defence force medals rsl

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