Laying a wreath at the Australian War Memorial on August 31 at the launch of Legacy Week, widow Denise Bird described the organisation as being like an extended family.
“As soon as you’re widowed, you’ve got an enormous amount of work to do trying to sort everything,” Mrs Bird said.
“You’ve been caring for your husband through illness and palliative care and then all of a sudden you’re left with paperwork.
“The people at Legacy were such a help. They sat me down, talked me through what I had to do and photocopied things for me.”
Her husband, a Vietnam veteran, came home safely but later developed bowel, lung, brain and bone cancer – likely the result of Agent Orange exposure – which he died of in 2015.
“No one will say that, but yes, his was classed as a death because of war,” she said.
Mrs Bird is one of the 52,000 widows, widowers and families Australia-wide Legacy helps by providing services to, including counselling, special housing and medical, advocacy and social support.
We’re encouraging Australians to consider going online to donate to Legacy, to enable us to continue providing support for those in our care.
She said Legacy gave her the opportunity to meet other ADF widows and like-minded people.
“With people who’ve been through similar experiences you don’t have to explain your loss, why it’s just you living alone. It’s a bit of a camaraderie,” Mrs Bird said.
In support of people like Mrs Bird, ADF members have volunteered to sell Legacy Badges at various locations across Australia.
Legacy Australia Chairman Rick Cranna said the Legacy Badges had always been the main source of funding.
“This week normally provides a great deal of the $16 million we need to care for widows and children, and disabled dependents and those veteran families where that veteran partner has been physically or mentally affected by their war service,” Mr Cranna said.
“Legacy Week across the country will look different this year.
“We’re encouraging Australians to consider going online to donate to Legacy, to enable us to continue providing support for those in our care.”
Donations to Legacy can be made at www.legacyweek.com.au