Man pays respect to fallen brother
AT 20, in a country far from home and weighed down by the unaccustomed feel of a rifle, Kerry Deacon was forced to become a soldier.
At 59, weighed down bymemories of his Vietnam War service, in a quiet ward in the Warwick Hospital, he died.
His family was left with precious memories and a graveside debt.
Danny Mason had to scrape together all his spare cash to pay for his older brother’sfuneral.
Even then the service was minimal: held graveside, without a wake or a headstone.
This week the local meatworker celebrated the simple fact he has finally – some two years after his brother’s death – saved enough for the $500 stone and plaque.
But his private jubilation was jaded by news this week that the Australian Defence Forces are now willing to pay up to $38,000 for individual soldier’s sex-change operations.
It is not that Mr Mason resents those with sexuality issues: Kerry Deacon came home from war and married, before announcing he was homo-sexual.
It is simply that this Warwick man would have appreciated a little assistance from the defence forces or the Australian Government when it came to marking his brother’s final resting place.
“We asked for help from the government and army but were told we weren’t eligible,” Mr Mason said.
“It just seems a little unreasonable that your country can conscript you to war, and then when you come home and drink too much trying to forget and die too early they don’t want to know you.”
Kerry Deacon’s headstone didn’t meet criteria for assistance under the Veteran’s Entitlement Act, legislation which governs what servicemen are eligible to receive.
Veterans Support Advocacy Services president Eddie Marshall confirmed specific criteria had to be meet to be eligible for financial help.
“It doesn’t always seem fair, and it is not always right, but the act determines who gets what,” Mr Marshall said.