Scenic Rim Veterans group catch up over coffee after COVID-19 restriction break

IT seems like forever since social gatherings were allowed, thanks to COVID-19 restrictions but as the rules relaxed, one local group could not wait to see each other again face to face.

Members of the Scenic Rim Veterans Group braved the brisk morning today and were able to warm themselves with sunshine and camaraderie at the Beaudesert Golf Club.

Group spokesman Peter Rewko said the events started with a couple of mates meeting for coffee in Beaudesert and soon grew into a group of about 20 who looked forward to meeting for lunch and regular outings.

"We are a group that doesn't have a president or a treasurer, we don't raise money or ask for help, we are just there for each other and when we get together we can talk openly but mostly we just have a good laugh," Mr Rewko said.

Also present at the Golf Club were Vietnam veteran Barry Fisher and Ralph Elliott, brother of comedian Col Elliott.

Mr Elliott said he had only moved to the Scenic Rim about three months ago.

"I had asked at the RSL where the veterans met but they didn't seem to have anything organised," he said.

"Then one day I was in VK Everydays and I saw Barry who had 'navy' on his shirt, so I asked him the same question and he said, 'here we are'."

Mr Elliott said it was lucky he was in the cafe on the very day the group was meeting and was made welcome from the start.

"We are army, navy and air force and we all sit at the same table," he said.

"It doesn't matter what service you were in, a vet's a vet, we all did our bit."

The returned serviceman said when he returned from Vietnam in the late 60s, returned servicemen were shown no respect.

"When I came back from the First Battalion I was spat on, had red paint thrown at me and called a criminal," Mr Elliott said.

"None of us said we were veterans for many years after that."

The group of men shared a bond, with many having overcome a range of challenges and hardship associated with coming off the battlefield and back into a community which, while more respectful these days, would have little understanding of their experiences.

Their humour and humility was evident and all agreed that while they were able to tough out the COVID-19 government restrictions on social gatherings, they were glad to be able to connect again in real life with their support network.