Always hoping for peace

Always hoping for peace

Matt and Cassandra Ryan reflected on the importance of Remembrance day. Photograph — Matt Devlin.
Matt and Cassandra Ryan reflected on the importance of Remembrance day in Byford. Photograph — Matt Devlin.

Australians stopped to remember past conflicts this Remembrance day but according to Byford couple Cassandra and Matt Ryan it was just as important to keep current conflicts in mind.

The two were well aware of the impact conflict had on service people having both served in the Australian navy, where they met.

Mr Ryan joined the navy in 1990 as a marine technician and was deployed to Kuwait to help rehabilitate the devastated nation following the first gulf war.

He was later deployed to East Timor then Afghanistan and Iraq following September 11.

He left the navy in 2005.

Commander Cassandra Ryan joined in 1997 after completing an engineering degree at Curtin university and was deployed to help rebuild Iraq.

“I was only meant to join for a couple of years and I’ve been here 18 with no end in sight,” she said.

“I come from a mining background, my hometown is a mining town and I thought the navy would be the best way to train and be transferrable to the mining industry but when

I joined the navy I loved the travelling, being at sea and the mateship.”

She said it was this mateship that encouraged her and her husband to become involved in the Serpentine Jarrahdale RSL.

“When you come back (from deployment) it takes a while to adjust and sometimes you never do, which is one of the reasons why we’re part of the RSL,” she said.

“Sometimes it’s important to have that camaraderie and people who understand.

“It’s really hard to explain unless you’ve been there but on Remembrance day we appreciate that people are trying to understand and that for a brief moment the whole nation stops and gets it.

“They get how much of a sacrifice it was, even for those who were able to come back because people still come back with scars.”

She said for her Remembrance day symbolised a hope for peace.

“The sound of the silence of the guns is what we should be aiming for,” she said.

“We’re obviously both service people but we have children and we don’t want them to go through conflicts so we want to help the world any way we can to get through the conflicts in the most peaceful way possible.

“The show of national commemoration is really important to us as service people because it means it wasn’t a waste of a year of our lives every time we went. We can’t leave people undefended either, as much as we don’t want to have conflict we can’t let bullies go over the top, it’s just very un-Australian.”

She said Remembrance day was also of particular importance to her because her great grandfather was one of the original Anzacs serving in Gallipoli, her grandfather served in the pacific campaign in World War II and her uncle served in Vietnam.

Mr Ryan said he hoped Remembrance day reminded people of the struggles of returning soldiers, particularly when it came to mental health and the high suicide rate.

“We’ve got it down pat to focus on the world wars, which you see every Anzac day and Remembrance day but it’s the ones coming back now and the suicide rate is quite high for all services,” he said.

“To us that is a really big thing in the RSL, we need to get to those people, get them involved and try to help.”