For army veteran Matthew Hoare, Anzac Day is about remembering our fallen soldiers, while also supporting those who have returned home.
The 28-year-old from Elanora served almost five years with the 8/9th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment at Enoggera and was deployed to Afghanistan and East Timor.
He has since started a family and is following his passion for helping soldiers rehabilitate, by studying a Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science at Southern Cross University.
Last year he co-founded the Association of Veteran Surfers, supported by RSL Queensland, to help ex-military personnel on the Gold Coast, Brisbane and Sunshine Coast transition to life back home.
“We started the board riders club to help veterans in the community to de-stress and transition back into civilian life,” he said.
“When they return home, a lot of veterans feel as though they lose their identity from when they served. For me, I chose to move to the Gold Coast because I love surfing and now I am sharing that with other veterans as a way to connect.”
Matthew organises the monthly Saturday catch-ups with about 30 veterans and their families and has received more funding to begin hosting adventure training and team bonding sessions with current defence force members.
Through his studies at Southern Cross University, Matthew is working towards a career in helping military veterans through rehabilitation.
“I didn’t see being an infantry solider as a long term career, because of the injuries you sustain in a job like that, but I enjoyed the training and fitness side and I want to help other military guys lead healthy lives on the other side,” he said.
“ANZAC Day is one of my favourite days of the year, because you get to reflect on it and pay respect to all those soldiers who came before us and served here and overseas – those who were injured, lost their lives or returned home a changed person.
“It’s also a good chance to catch up with friends from the military who you no longer get to see every day. Life gets busy once you leave the military and it’s nice to be able to have a drink and a laugh and also reflect and remember the mates we didn’t bring home,” he said.
Matt describes his platoon as ‘one of the lucky ones’.
“We didn’t lose anyone in the six months over there in Afghanistan,” he said.
“Some days we would receive intel hours before our patrol that we were in danger, and a few days I had a bad feeling in my gut that we may not come home.
“I had that odd feeling a couple of days there and it was very stressful, but lucky it was just a feeling.
“I really enjoyed the deployments and being overseas, that’s what I joined up for, but those other times can be quite stressful – you don’t know what’s going to happen every time you go out for patrol.”
Media contact: Jessica Huxley, media officer, Southern Cross University Gold Coast, 07 5589 3024 or 0417 288 794.