Tigers to honour Vietnam veterans

James Kavanagh will play his 200th senior game. Photo: Katheirne GriffithsHis father fought a losing battle with the demons from fighting in Vietnam and now Queanbeyan conditioning coach Robbie Thompson wants to help other veterans facing similar problems.

The Tigers will wear a special one-off guernsey for Sunday’s clash against second-placed Belconnen at Queanbeyan, with money raised going to the Vietnam Veterans and Veterans Federation ACT Branch as well as Soldier On.

Following his father’s footsteps into the armed forces, Thompson was a naval petty officer and was part of the peacekeeping force in the Solomon Islands.

He approached Queanbeyan general manager Ron Fowlie at the start of the season and put forward the idea of a day supporting our returned servicemen.

The extreme pressures and horrors of combat can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder. And the mental health of our soldiers was a neglected area for so long.

”He was a Vietnam veteran who sadly lost his battle with post-traumatic stress-affiliated conditions – alcoholism, I guess,” Thompson said of his father Max.

”It was just a thing back then: ‘You’ll be right mate, have another beer.’ That’s the way you dealt with your demons.

”I think we’re lucky today we have organisations like the Veterans Association and Soldier On that know it is good to talk about these things, and be open and get the help required.”

Now Thompson works for ACT Fire and Rescue, as does Tigers full-forward James Kavanagh.

Kavanagh will play his 200th senior game – he has played 89 for Ainslie and 110 for the Tigers – after recovering from an ankle injury that kept him out for 10 weeks.

The Tigers also have forward Ben Klemke and onballer Toby Conroy returning from injury.

Kavanagh kicked 76 goals in the Tigers’ NEAFL eastern conference premiership side and Thompson said his milestone added to the day.

The big full-forward started at Mulgrave in Melbourne before joining Ainslie in 2002.

He then headed across the border to the Tigers in 2007 and has kicked more than 500 goals since leaving Victoria.

Thompson said firies faced similar stresses to servicemen.

”If Kav can get up for his 200th, we get a win on the board, we put our finals back on track and we engage the community in the event, it’ll be a fantastic day,” he said.

It will also be defender Andrew Swan and midfielder Steve Joliffe’s 50th senior game with the Tigers.

The Tigers are the reigning eastern conference premiers, while Belconnen is separated from the ladder-leading Sydney Swans reserves only by percentage.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.