Inaugural Service For Middle East Veterans

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NSW Premier Chris Minns and Minister for Veterans David Harris will attend the inaugural Middle East Area of Operations Commemoration today to honour the service of contemporary veterans.

Hosted by RSL NSW at the Cenotaph in Martin Place, the service takes place three years to the day the Federal Minister for Defence confirmed all Australian Defence Force personnel had departed Afghanistan, bringing our nation’s longest war involvement to a close.

The conflicts in the Middle East were in response to the 2001 September 11 terrorist attacks, and Australian military personnel and civilian staff from various agencies took part in campaigns across the Middle East Area of Operations between 2001 and 11 July 2021.

Our nation’s participation came at a terrible cost with 54 lives lost in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait.

Many more service personnel returned home with long-lasting physical and mental injuries, which are still felt today, and, tragically, a high number of veteran suicides.

The commemoration comes a day after the NSW Government announced a $2 million investment to building a new war memorial dedicated to honour the service and sacrifice of those who served in the Middle East campaigns and their families, delivering on a key election commitment.

NSW Premier Chris Minns said:

“Today we honour the immense contribution and sacrifice of our contemporary veterans in Middle East conflicts.

“We recognise their courage and their service, as well as the ongoing toll of their experiences, both visible and invisible.

“These veterans continue the proud tradition of our armed forces, serving abroad to protect the Australian way of life at home.

“This day will forever be enshrined in remembrance of these brave men and women.”

Minister for Veterans David Harris said:

“Today we gather to acknowledge the service of our contemporary veterans. These servicemen and servicewomen who have served in recent conflicts have made extraordinary sacrifices to continue the legacy of our Anzacs from the First World War.

“They have served our country with distinction, but have also felt enormous loss as a result of conflicts. Many continue to wear this burden long after they departed the Middle East. I would like to thank them for their service, and also thank their families for supporting their loved ones.”

/Public Release. View in full here.