Families Of Veterans Guild

Connecting War Widows: Expanding Peer Support Networks

Our Castle Hill Regional Visit 

Our recent visit to Castle Hill was met with an amazing turnout from local war widows and special guests, including Mark Hodges MP, State Member for Castle Hill, Dr Peter Gangemi, Mayor of The Hills Shire, and RSL Sub-Branch representatives. The event aimed to provide a space for war widows to connect and form new friendships, with the goal of establishing a new social club in the area. The Families of Veterans Guild, through its War Widows Program, supports war widows with a network of social clubs across the state, offering a safe and welcoming environment for sharing experiences and forging lasting friendships.

With the help of the RSL Sub-Branch, we reached more war widows than ever before. Walking around the room, one could sense the strong sense of community. Dr Gangemi told us of the tight-knit nature of the Hills area and the strong sense of helping and being there for one another, something that isn’t always easy to find in a large city.  Those ladies’ stories, like Sue’s and Shirley’s are a testament to this.

Sue attended the lunch to support her 90-year-old neighbour, Shirley. After years of supporting each other, their relationship has grown from neighbours to family. Sue sees Shirley as a mother, and Shirley views Sue as a daughter. Despite the generational gap, they find true support in each other, doing almost everything together. With Sue’s mother passed and Shirley’s son living in the USA, their bond has deepened. Sue takes Shirley to places, while Shirley offers Sue guidance. Though Sue isn’t connected to defence, her bond with Shirley has made her part of a veteran’s family, understanding, through Shirley’s stories, the service and sacrifices of families better than most Australians.

A chance for war widows to connect with their peers

Carolyn, who lost her husband two and a half years ago, initially hesitated to attend the lunch but decided to go and asked her good friend to come with her for support. Having her friend supporting her was essential and she was delighted to connect with women who share similar experiences and understood her journey.

At Carolyn’s table, sat another lady named Shirley, a Families of Veterans Guild Member, who was telling Carolyn how wonderful it had been for her to be welcomed with open arms at the Younger Members Social Club after the passing of her husband. She told her about the bond and connection she shares with other Vietnam war widows and how unique and special it is. At the same table, one of the widows had lost her husband only six months before and was still adjusting to life without him. She said her life felt empty without him, and she appreciated the opportunity of coming to the lunch and meet new people.

Acknowledging the impact of service on war widows and defence families

Each widow’s story is unique, yet they all share the common journey of living a defence family life, carrying their loved ones’ service with pride, and coping with loss. These women have endured hardships unimaginable to most, yet they remain grateful for their experiences and the support they find in each other. They embody the resilience and thankfulness common among war widows, they are a true inspiration to us all.

Mark Hodge MP said it was incredibly important for him to attend this event to demonstrate his recognition of veterans and their families in his community. Particularly war widows, who’s sacrifices and service continues today and into the future, as they continue live with the impact of service every day. He said it is important for them to know their sacrifice and loss will never be forgotten.

Dr Gangemi expressed his gratitude for attending the lunch and learning about our organisation, highlighting that in a community that includes many veterans and families of veterans, such initiative is “absolutely essential.”

RSL Sub-Branch President, Cheryl Hill, praised the initiative, noting the surprising number of war widows in the area and the importance of bringing them together.

We look forward to starting a new social club in Castle Hill. To find out more please contact us at guild@fov.org.au or call 02 9267 6577.

Here are some pictures of this day, if you wish to keep inform with the work of our organisation or of upcoming events, please subscribe to our Newsletter here

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Shopping Cart