Belinda McIntosh, Michelle Coates, and Annie Strawbridge will lead the Tweed's ANZAC Day march.
Belinda McIntosh, Michelle Coates, and Annie Strawbridge will lead the Tweed's ANZAC Day march. Scott Powick

Female veterans to wear medals on their left side

THE Tweed Heads and Coolangatta RSL Sub-Branch will draw special attention to the contribution of women on Anzac Day who have served or are currently serving our country.

The move is in support of the "By the Left” campaign, an initiative aimed at broadening the public's perception of what a veteran looks like.

Tweed RSL member and employee Belinda McIntosh, who was in the air force for 17 years as an air surveillance operator, said the initiative is about "becoming more inclusive”.

"It was started because women were being questioned about wearing their medals on the wrong side, so it's about raising awareness that women are veterans and have earned their medals,” Ms McIntosh said.

According to By the Left, many female veterans are often questioned about whose medals they are wearing, with some critics believing they must be wearing family members' medals, which are usually worn on the right.

The By the Left campaign aims to ensure women can rightfully wear their medals on the left without being questioned.

While Ms McIntosh has never herself been questioned about wearing her medals on the wrong side, she said the campaign had made her feel more encouraged to march on Anzac Day.

"There's a lot of people, both men and women who have served but weren't deployed, so didn't identify as a veteran,” she said.

"Thanks to this campaign, I now feel more encouraged and included to march even though I previously didn't feel like I could because I wasn't a veteran.”

Ms McIntosh said the Department of Veteran Affairs has since changed the definition of veteran to include those who have served but weren't deployed overseas.

This Anzac Day, Ms McIntosh and other women will lead the Anzac Day March and flank the commemorative ceremony in Chris Cunningham Park.

The march will also include some younger veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"It's really raising awareness on what a modern veteran is and may look like, male, female, young or old,” Ms McIntosh said.

"We all have one thing in common, and that's we all have served.”



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