For more than 90 years Legatees have been supporting the widows and dependents of Australia’s deceased veterans.
Legatees were originally returned servicemen, though today Legacy welcomes membership enquiries from people from all walks of life.
There are about 6,000 Legatees throughout Australia, with some having served Legacy for more than 50 years.
The longest serving sailor in Navy’s history, Warrant Officer Martin Grogan, of HMAS Cerberus, became a Legatee in 2013 because he saw the need to support war widows and their families.
“Some of the widows are getting very old and have lost their family support,” Warrant Officer Grogan said.
“I visit them and provide advice on the complexities of getting old and entering a nursing home.
“They are wonderful people.
“The widows are full of stories, but there is a lot of loneliness.
“Sometimes I am the first person they have spoken to in weeks.”
Warrant Officer Grogan provides support to 20 widows in and around Mornington Peninsula in Victoria and said the oldest turned 100 on Anzac Day.
“The youngest is in her 60s, though most of the ladies are in their 80s,” Warrant Officer Grogan said.
“The best part of being a Legatee is being able to see the results of our work.
“I would encourage personnel to become Legatees because of the joy we bring to widows and their families.
“It’s rewarding and they are very appreciative of everything we do for them.
“The widows are well looked after by the Department of Veterans' Affairs – what they don’t have is company.”
Chief Petty Officer Leigh Ottway, of HMAS Waterhen, has been a Legatee for nearly 12 months and said it was a good way to stay a part of the military family when he retired from full-time service.
“My wife Annette and I are Legacy mentors for the Huon Valley in Tasmania and provide support for nearly 30 widows,” Chief Petty Officer Ottway said.
“We attend their monthly meetings and offer advice and if they need financial assistance we can help with a grant or an interest-free loan.
“We call them on their birthdays and again six months later, they love the interaction.
“They are lovely ladies and are actually embarrassed when we do something for them.”
Chief Petty Officer Ottway said there were many Legacy widows around Australia.
“A lot of the widows don’t get out much, so when we take the ladies out to a Legacy dinner and see the smiles on their faces, it is very rewarding.
“When I share my stories from my time in the military, they tend to open up and as Annette is a Defence wife, she has a lot in common with them.
“During HMAS Canberra’s recent visit to Hobart we set up a fundraising stall near the gangway and raised $2,500 for Legacy.”
“It’s great to see the support from the public and the reactions of the ladies.”
Legacy Week 2015 is from 30 August to 5 September. You can support Legacy by making a donation at www.legacy.com.au/Donate or by donating to a Legacy volunteer. Badge Day is on 4 September.