THE Warwick RSL Sub-branch has issued a call to arms to ex-Defence Force members, male or female, to join its organisation.
The Queensland RSL state branch has more than 270 sub-branches and many have issued a call for new, younger members to join.
Sub-branch president John Skinner said current membership was heavily weighted in the over-70 age group and new members needed to be trained and ready to take over the welfare, pensions and advocacy of war veterans and ex-service men and women, and to help organise memorial services.
“Many of our board members have been engaged in supporting veterans and ex-service men and women in need for many years, and there seems to be very few waiting to take their place,” he said.
“There are people out there who served in the Defence Force between 1975 and 2000 who didn’t have the opportunity to serve overseas and who feel they don’t have the right to become members of the sub-branch, but they are the ones who will be the backbone of the RSL in the next 20 or so years.
“The people we are hoping will fill our roles are those who have the time, those who no longer have their kids at home, no longer need to have a second job and have the desire to become involved in a great and rewarding community service.”
Mr Skinner said until 30years ago the RSL was open only to war veterans, but a need was recognised at a national and state level and ex-service men and women who were not veterans were invited to join to assist with the league’s objectives.
“The Warwick sub-branch had lobbied for non-veterans to be part of the RSL since the 1950s and over the course of the next 40 years achieved this aim when the national body changed the rules and name to Returned and Services League,” he said.
“In 20 or 30 years’ time, those people who served in the First Gulf War, East Timor, Iraq or Afghanistan, alongside those who are still serving and others who have not had the opportunity to become veterans, will then have the time to take over the roles I’ve mentioned.”