TAMWORTH RSL Sub-branch is calling on those who haven’t served in the military to join as members for the first time.
Previously, you could only be a member of the sub-branch if you’d served for at least six months, whether you’d seen active service or not.
For the first time, civilians can join as affiliate members if they support the work of the RSL, are approved by the members, and are prepared
to work for the organisation.
Sub-branch president Bob Chapman, a Vietnam War veteran, said he realised the value of affiliate members after attending the State Congress last year.
Mr Chapman said someone did a survey on the street at the congress and 70 per cent of people didn’t know what the RSL was about.
Anyone considering joining as an affiliate member is invited to the annual general meeting being held on February 23 at 10.30am in Wests’ Diggers ballroom, where they can see what is discussed at the organisation and get a feel for the sub-branch and its members.
They can then get an application from the sub-branch, complete and submit it then it will go to the committee to approve or reject, then go to the next general meeting where they will be accepted or rejected as a member.
“The committee will look at what they’re offering the sub-branch,” Mr Chapman said.
He said the role of the RSL had changed since the two world wars.
“After World War I, the diggers came back with their shell shock and the RSL only began after that, but there was no such thing as lobbying the government to help them,” he said.
“The RSL was somewhere they could meet with others who had something in common. They had somewhere to go away from the public where they could have that camaraderie.”
Mr Chapman said the clubs were strong after World War II, but now many sub-branches didn’t have clubs and focused on commemoration and welfare, instead.
“The young veterans are in a lost world at the moment,” he said.
“They are coming home with post traumatic stress. It isn’t beginning down the track like with the Vietnam vets, it’s beginning as soon as they come home. We are working hard to involve these guys and working hard to get them pensions and the welfare they need.”
Mr Chapman said that they had full-time jobs, so couldn’t be involved in the RSL as active volunteers, which is why they were calling on the public’s support.