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Think Piece: From a Daughter’s Perspective

Thursday 2 March, 2017

Lauren Hadaway_edited_2I often reflect and think: ‘what does it mean to be the daughter of a veteran and how has this factor influenced my life?’

I come from a family where serving your country is something every generation has done so it is interesting to think how life’s events have influenced where I am now.

My father is a Vietnam Veteran who served between 1967-1968 in the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, stationed in Nui Dat and conducting operations in Phuoc Tuy province.  When the battalion was deployed home Dad was reallocated to the 1st Australian Task Force Headquarters for the remainder of his tour. My grandfather was an air frame fitter during WWII. My great-grandfather deployed from Australia during WWI and, upon reaching Egypt, went to serve with the British Royal Artillery. My great great-grandfather served with the Broken Hill Mounted Rifles in South Africa during the Boer War. Consequently I grew up around the veteran community.  It is this community that has influenced my life and explains my passion for improving the quality of life for our veterans and their families.

Growing up I have fond memories of ‘adventures’ to the RSL and to many of its sub-branches, Anzac Day Parades, visits to Navy ships down at the Port Adelaide docks, and meeting many interesting people. Going to the RSL was always a special event, as usually it was a place for the veterans to gather, remember their fallen comrades and relive old memories.  I clearly recall Dad’s routine of going to the RSL every Thursday night. For me it was like having a ‘pool’ of fathers. They taught me life and survival skills and entertained me with their adventurous stories. It all seemed normal to me, and I found it hard to comprehend when other children did not understand the sacrifice these people had made and why Anzac Day and Remembrance Day were so important to my family.

I remember going to Sydney as a child for the “Welcoming them Home Parade” in 1987.  Although at the time I did not realise the significance, as I was only 5 years old, I remember the trip, the emotion of Dad’s mates and the overwhelming number of people in attendance.

I assisted the RSL sub-branch redeveloping the Prospect Memorial, which pays tribute to all veterans, and was so proud to have been a part of something so significant and to share that experience at my school. I was honored to be a recipient of a Long Tan Bursary. The financial assistance provided by the bursary for my education changed my life and helped to me to achieve my personal goals. This made my father very proud, something that was priceless. I now work for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and feel incredibly rewarded that every day I have the opportunity to assist veterans and their families to improve their quality of life.

I consider myself to be very fortunate to have grown up amongst the veteran community and am privileged to have met the honourable people I otherwise would not have met.  I have been moved by their courage and selflessness to better the quality of life of those they may never meet. My upbringing has assisted me to appreciate the smallest things in life and never take anything for granted, because there is always someone who has walked a mile further and done it harder. We are lucky to live the life we do and experience the freedom we have, because of those who have and still do wear the uniform and put their lives on the line for ours.

As I look back now and reflect on the values and morals I have developed, I see how this has shaped me as a person. These values have developed into a passion to help those who have and are serving our country and their families. I feel an immense sense of pride that I am helping to make a difference, because I understand.

I’m proud to be the daughter of a veteran.

Lauren Hadaway was born in Adelaide in 1982. Her family history has inter generational association with the Australian Defence Force and is one of two siblings of a Vietnam Veteran. She represented South Australia in the swimming Nationals and was selected for the SA Sydney 2000 Olympic training camp, however sustained a knee injury. Lauren commenced university studies in 2006, with assistance from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Veterans’ Children Education Scheme (VCES) and in 2009 was a recipient of the Long Tan Bursary. Studying at Flinders University, The University of Adelaide and the University of South Australia, she completed a double degree and Bachelor of Arts majoring in Health Education and Promotion, Linguistics, Italian and a minor in Philosophy. Lauren now works at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs in the Veterans’ Access Network as an acting senior VSC Officer. She has also worked with the Community Support Team, Veterans’ Health Week events and currently assists the On Base Advisory Service Officer (OBAS).

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