THE Anzac memorial service in Manilla was focused on one particular battle this year.
It wasn't the celebration of a bloody victory on a foreign shore, nor a galvanising defeat in the face of geographical and martial adversity.
But it was a battle one speaker said had claimed more Australian lives than any field of conflict in the 21st century.
Hundreds of people lined Manilla's main street for the town's morning service on Anzac Day this year and a typically sombre service had some very sobering strains added by guest speaker Lt. Col. Jim Newton.
In a year where security fears were heightened at commemorative services in Australia and abroad, Lt. Col. Newton spoke of a real and present threat at home.
"There have been more deaths through suicide than there have been on the field of conflict," he said.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, there were 373 suicides among reserve and ex-serving defence force personnel between 2001 and 2016.
Between 2014 and 2016, the rate of suicide for ex-serving men aged under 30 was more than two times higher than the rest of similarly-aged Australian men.
Lt. Col. Newton spoke at length about "war neurosis" and how it manifested in subsequent generations of defence force personnel from WWI onwards.
He called on the community to show more support.
"They may look upright, they may look fit, they may look as if things are going quite well and they look stoic," he said.
"But sometimes that is furthest from the truth.
"The question that I ask myself on this day is 'what can we do, as a community, not only with the defence support ... to assist these people with some of the difficulties that they face?'
"Maybe we can listen a little harder and a little closer to what they are saying."
The Manilla RSL sub-branch was impressed with the attendance at its Anzac Day events, with more than 250 people at the dawn and a larger gathering at its morning commemoration.
A small crowd also gathered at the town's cemetery where 263 Australian flags fluttered fitted to the headstones of deceased ex-servicemen.
Family members travelled from afar as Sydney to attend Manilla's service after they heard a flag had been put on their ancestor's grave.
The Manilla Fire and Rescue unit was also commended for supplying a catafalque party in lieu of the Hunter River Lancers customary support.
- If you are in need of support, please call:
- Open Arms - Veterans and families counselling - 1800 011 046
- Lifeline 13 11 14