Joshua and Jessica Mattsson of Flinders View with their boys Archer, 2, and Boston, 1, who have received medals from the RSL for being brave while their father is away on active service.
Joshua and Jessica Mattsson of Flinders View with their boys Archer, 2, and Boston, 1, who have received medals from the RSL for being brave while their father is away on active service. David Nielsen

Youngsters deserve medal for bravery

THE children of Ipswich's soldiers have been recognised for their own bravery while their parents are on tours of duty overseas.

Fifty-eight families of Amberley-based soldiers came together on Monday night to let their little ones know how courageous they were.

Veterans Affairs advocate Donna Reggett said the medals gave the 117 children, aged from six months to 17, a boost in what is a tough time in their young lives.

She said more than half of the children had one parent overseas and the gesture was a welcome one.

The medals highlighted the children's perseverance at home.

"They are just so proud," Ms Reggett said.

"We put it on our Facebook page and even before I got home they had made comments on how proud their children were.

"There was a lady there, a grandma, who said to me you don't know how much this means to the kids, and that made me feel really good."

The program is supported by the Ipswich RSL Sub Branch with presentations twice a year before Anzac and Remembrance Day.

The idea was first put into practice last year by Ms Reggett, who hopes to make the presentations across Australia after getting positive feedback from soldiers all over the country.

Soldiers serving in Afghanistan heard about it after an email was sent to Amberley-based units.

Orders for the medals have been placed from Newcastle and Ms Reggett said the idea was slowly making its way around the country.

She said it was hard for parents to protect their children from hearing about the constant danger the soldiers faced while on duty.

"The children also have to deal with the media. We can't censor everything that happens. They know their dad is in Afghanistan.

"When they see a news flash or hear in the news soldiers have died, they panic. They have to live with it," she said. "We can't shield our children from it like you could do in the past."

The evening was also a chance for Defence Force families to come together and socialise in a different setting.

"There were so many families there, so it gave the mums a chance to meet other mums."

The next medallion presentation will be held later in the year.

To be a part of the medal presentation before Remembrance Day, email Ms Reggett at ipswichadvocate @bigpond.com.



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