Virgin Australia announces US-style plan to honour veterans on every flight
Australian defence force Virgin Australia announces US-style plan to honour veterans on every flight
Airline joins News Corp campaign, but critic says veterans are being overused for corporate branding
Will Australians travelling on Virgin Australia flights soon be rising in their seats to applaud servicemen on board as they do on most US a irlines?
A new campaign being driven by News Corp Australia â" and which has been backed by the prime minister, Scott Morrison â" aims to recognise veterans and their service using newspapers and Foxtel in association with select corporations.
Using the hashtag #ThanksForServing, NewsCorp says it is fostering âa movement to acknowledge the service of veterans, past and present, and the sacrifice of their familiesâ.
On Sunday Virgin announced it would join forces with News and acknowledge defence force veterans on its flights before take-off. It also plans to offer priority boarding but has stopped short of offering discount fares.
In the US, airlines which ask passengers to stand and applaud servicemen on board their aircraft and to offer a âThank you for your serviceâ.
Australiaâs veterans affairs minister, Darren Chester, appearing on the ABCâs Insiders, welcomed the Virgin announcement, but acknowledged many veterans would sooner embrace discounted airfares.
âAustralians, by nature, tend to keep their light under a bushel,â Chester sad. âSome would be happy to get on the plane without anyone knowing they are there.â
The Lowy Instituteâs research fellow Rodger Shanahan, himself a veteran, wrote an opinion piece last week, arguing that a US approach to acknowledging veterans would not necessarily go down well in Australia.
He said Australia was in danger of reaching âpeak veteranââ as governments, media and business all tried to capitalise.
âIt seems to be all about branding and veterans are the brand du jour,â he said. âI think they should dial it down a little.â
He said the veteransâ community was a ver y broad church â" it included people who has served just one day in the military through to people like himself who had served on multiple deployments overseas.
âMost of my cohort would rather not be defined by their military service,â he said. âThey find this kind of acknowledgement disconcerting.â
Shanahan also argued that people got carried away with the veteran identity while other groups, such as paramedics and aged care workers, who also served their communities went unrecognised.
Some of these groups routinely saw far more trauma than Australian veterans.
âThere is a narrative that veterans are highly traumatised, have seen horrible things in hostile environments â" and some have â" but itâs a small proportion [of Australian veterans],â he said.
âThere seems to be this disturbing desire to attach yourself to this term âveteransâ. I would much prefer we recognised veterans in a laidback way, and we do that through Anzac Day.
âI donât want to be thanked for my service. I gave them good service and they looked after me.â
The Morrison government has made several announcements aimed at veterans since the Invictus games and as News Corp ramps up its campaign.
It has promised a UK-style veteransâ covenant, which includes a discount card and lapel pin so participating businesses can offer discounts or benefits to veterans.The $498m about to be blown on the Australian War Memorial could be spent better | Paul Daley Read more
âWe acknowledge the important contribution veterans have made to keeping our country safe and the role they play in our community. Once the veterans have their cards and lapel pins, they will simply need to present them during the boarding process to be given priority boarding and be recognised on board,â Virgin Australia Group CEO John Borghetti said.
Qantas has not committed to the idea.
On Thursday the government announced $500m to extend the Australian War Memorial to include exhibits acknowledging recent conflicts and missions, such as Iraq and Timor.
On Friday Morrision announced plans for a new veteransâ employment commitment to be rolled out to businesses that want to employ veterans.
âWe want to translate Australiaâs culture of respect for veterans into action. Simply put, hiring a veteran is good for business,â Morrison said.Topics
- Australian defence force
- Air transport
- Virgin Australia
- Airline industry
- Business (Australia)
- Australian politics
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