LEGACY APPEAL 2015 – Ross Eastgate Reports

3 Sep 2015

For each serving Australian who risks everything – a family does the same. Australians will have the chance to show their support for these very special families by buying a badge during Legacy Week, August 30 to September 5, 2015. MATTHEW Millhouse will be farewelled in Hobart this afternoon. Matt died last weekend aged 36, leaving behind his widow Terese and daughter Eleanor. He was a soldier once, with all the hopes and dreams that inspire those who follow the profession of arms. And like everyone else he thought he was bullet proof, safe from harm. It wouldn’t be him whose name would be on the walls of the Australian War Memorial’s Hall of Memories, or the broken old digger damaged irrevocably by his service. It didn’t happen that way for Matt Millhouse. He won’t be here this Sunday to share Fathers’ Day with his daughter, nor celebrate another birthday, nor watch his daughter grow, mature, marry and have children of her own. It needn’t have been this way, but this was the hand fate dealt Matt and his family. He didn’t die on the battlefield and he didn’t die by his own hand but he died as a direct result of his operational service. In Baghdad in 2004 Trooper Millhouse’s light armoured vehicle took the full brunt of a roadside IED, critically injuring his troop commander Lieutenant Garth Callender. Matt seemed to have survived the blast unscathed, though no one then could have envisaged the horrendous consequences to follow. What no one knew, nor was immediately obvious was he had suffered a significant brain injury which would manifest as early onset dementia and claim his young life far too early. Physical injuries are obvious and treatable though too many lives have been dramatically affected leaving a lifetime legacy of pain and struggle. Traumatic brain injuries and more insidiously psychological injuries are often invisible but no less debilitating. Just as an IED radiates its damage to all within its brutal reach so personal injuries can and always do affect not just the individual but also family, friends and acquaintances. Collateral emotional damage casts a wide net when a soldier is killed, injured or dies subsequently of combat related causes. Matt Millhouse may be one of those who shall grow not old but he is more than a statistic. He was a husband, father, mate and his mates rallied this week to ensure Terese and Ellie would not bear the pain of his passing alone nor the cost of his funeral. It’s what mates do. It’s what Legacy has been doing for nearly a century as those who were left to grow old vowed they would care for the widows and orphans of their mates who were not afforded that privilege. They realised at Gallipoli and on the battlefields of Palestine and the Western Front their responsibilities to their mates would not end when the guns fell silent but last as long as survivors and families remained. A century after that war Legacy is still caring for widows of World War I veterans. Subsequent conflicts leaving similarly bereaved families mean its work is far from done. This Legacy week dig deep and show Matt Millhouse’s family and others similarly affected we still care. To make a donation or volunteer your time visit www.legacy.com.au or call 1800 534 229