Supporting our troops with comforts of home
A message from the Returned & Services League of Australia
Twice a year, around ANZAC Day and Christmas, members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) deployed overseas receive thoughtful care packages from RSL Australia to thank them for their service.
These care packages contain an assortment of quintessentially Australian snacks and treats, along with a letter from RSL Australia on behalf of the nation conveying sincere gratitude for their service and sacrifice.
Deployments can be isolating, and receiving a care package from Australia can provide a connection to home. One recipient expressed: ‘It is quite special to be thought of outside of the family back home.’ Another remarked: ‘To be frank, it made my day as all the items cannot be bought here. It is very much appreciated and makes a big difference knowing that people and organisations care.’
The RSL tradition of demonstrating gratitude for those deployed began back in 1963 when the RSL organised Christmas care packages for members of the Australian Army serving in Vietnam. Following the withdrawal of troops from Vietnam, the RSL resolved to continue to support Australian forces on missions abroad and formally established the RSL Australian Forces Overseas Fund (AFOF) in 1966.
The fund is mainly used to provide biannual care packages, however during the ADF deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, the RSL identified a need to provide additional support for ADF members seriously wounded on overseas service.
The fund was used to create RSL Support Packs for seriously wounded personnel who required treatment through the NATO hospital facilities in Germany and later hospitalisation in Australia. It was also used to offer respite, providing a week-long, all-expenses-paid break within Australia with the family of the wounded ADF member once they arrived home.
Donations to the RSL AFOF, and the support of volunteers who give up two days to assemble the packages at the 39 OSB Randwick Barracks in Sydney, make these care packages possible.
The RSL AFOF Care Packages go beyond the tangible items inside the boxes. This gesture sends a powerful message to our service men and women they are thought of back home and their sacrifices are deeply appreciated.