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Virgin Australia reconsiders veteran salutes following backlash

08 November 2018

On Twitter, some veterans saw the move as a way to score votes for the Liberal government led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

"It seems to be all about branding and veterans are the brand du jour", he said.

Veterans advocate Ray Martin wouldn't mind a free drink and they don't need priority. "American nonsense. Will not fly @Virgin if this goes ahead".

The Lowy Institute's research fellow Rodger Shanahan, himself a veteran, wrote that Australia is in danger of reaching "peak veteran'" as governments, media and business all tried to capitalise.

"A lot of veterans don't want to draw that sort of attention", he said.

"When I talk to veterans from other countries, they are just so touched by the culture of respect Australians have for veterans", he said.

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"You could include me in that. We're not quite as loud or noisy as that", said Mike Carlton, the author of several books about Australia's military history. The ledger was square.

The bigger problem with putting military personnel on "an impossibly tall pedestal" is that failing to thank so many others who serve the community in sometimes risky, high-pressure and potentially traumatic situations, such as emergency service workers, as well as aged care and disability workers, and special-needs teachers leaves him feeling "very uneasy" when there's already a range of support for ex-servicepeople ranging from the Department of Veteran's Affairs toe advocacy groups such as the RSL, and Legacy.

"Most of my cohort would rather not be defined by their military service", he said.

"We're investing a lot more money into, in particular, veterans counselling services to help them with the psychological adjustment".

"If you really wanted to thank veterans you'd reinstate the service discount abolished in the early 1980s", he told AAP.

"It's about how we can recognise our younger veterans better in the war memorial", he told the ABC on Sunday.

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"A spokesperson for Qantas said the airline had the "utmost respect for current and former defence force personnel" and special announcements were made on Anzac Day and Remembrance Day".

"And so we find it hard to single out a particular group as part of the boarding process".

Another agreed, writing: "Virgin Australia we are Australians..."

Neil James from the Australia Defence Association said practical action would be much more welcome than "tokenistic" public thanks.

The move reflects what is already done in the United States, where Australian servicemen and women will be given priority boarding and their contribution to the country publicly acknowledged on board during pre-flight announcements.

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Virgin Australia reconsiders veteran salutes following backlash