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Neale is a 93-year-old WWII veteran who served in the Army 2/1 Artillery Medium Regiment. In 1940, at the age of 16, Neale was looking to follow his cousin Ken into the Royal Australian Air Force. Ken and Neale were very close growing up and even played tennis as doubles partners during their school years. Unfortunately, Neale was too young and had his application rejected.

A few years later, Neale joined the Army. At this point he left a promising tennis career behind, shortly before Davis Cup trials, as well as bidding farewell to his mother, father and three sisters.

For his only overseas tour of duty, Neale was on a boat, bound for New Guinea. Unfortunately, warning bells sounded back home and 14 hours from the Australian shore, the boat had to turn back and fortify for the threat of invasion.

Back home, Neale was posted to Cowra barracks. While serving food in a mess hall to POW’s, Neale was attacked and knocked unconscious. The injuries sustained continued to affect Neale and he began having blackouts. As the war drew to a close Neale was offered, but rejected, medical discharge and saw out his time with the Army, concluding in 1946.

Adjusting to civilian life was difficult and Neale had to “feel [his] way all the time, it was not easy to get back into it”. In 1948 Neale married Nell and they had two children, Barbara and Graham.  Neale continued to suffer blackouts and finally, after blacking out days after his daughter’s wedding in 1968, he sort treatment and was given medication. Sadly in 1981, Nell passed away and was missed very much. In 1985 Neale married Patricia, who helped him deal with his issues.

Over the years, Neale’s medication was taken off the market and rather than replace it, he was gradually weaned off it. Unfortunately, his blackouts returned. Neale sought assistance in the form of a pension, but due to some ill-advised recommendations, his request was denied.

The years went on and Neale became progressively worse. Neale and Patricia were running out of options until the Welfare Officer at Canterbury-Hurlstone Park sub-Branch visited and asked what assistance Neale was receiving. When they discovered it was nothing, they immediately referred him to RSL DefenceCare.

RSL DefenceCare visited Neale in the hospital whilst he suffered from pneumonia and an infection. We organised taxi vouchers to assist Patricia to travel to and from the hospital to see Neale and to bring him home safely. They were also very useful in taking him to medical appointments.  Patricia said the help was “unbelievable” and she was so grateful.

RSL DefenceCare also worked on organising Neale’s pension, initially raising it from nothing to 100% and subsequently increasing it even further under an extreme disability adjustment to 155% of the general rate. Neale has been granted a Gold Card and the pension has been backdated to cover the time he should have received the extreme disability adjustment.

Neale and Patricia are now able to receive additional support services and it has allowed them to hire better medical assistance equipment. It has “made all the difference” according to Patricia.

“Everyone’s been so caring. I just want to say an enormous thank you, to the RSL DefenceCare Team for all their help in achieving this outcome and taking the stress out of the process.”

While daily life is still a struggle for Neale and Patricia, the help and support they have received has gone a long way to improving their quality of life. 

Please give what you can to support veterans like Neale.

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