State Emergency Service volunteer and Hampton resident Graeme Stanish has received a National Medal award honouring 35 years of service.
WHEN I retired at the end of 1993, I felt I could contribute somewhere else. I served 35 years in the Citizen Military Forces, so I identified the SES as somewhere my skills could be used, particularly as the military had involved me in administration and operations and taught me to use radios and the like.
I joined the SES in 1995 and have been with them since as a member of the Moorabbin unit. I am touching on 17 years with the SES and I don't know where the time has gone. It is so enjoyable.
The biggest change over the years would be the advances in computer technology. When I started it was all done manually, but now we use computers. There has also been a major upgrade of the radios we use.
We are mainly called out during weekends and evenings. The biggest incident that sticks in my mind during my time in the SES was in 2005 when there was a huge storm. We had something like 400 call-outs in a 24-hour period.
I am very happy to attend to the radio and the SES's operational work. I am happy to be an ordinary soldier, as it were, because I don't want to stand in the way of the young lads coming through.
I like the mental challenge of addressing the jobs and the priority that must be given to them. But the comradeship is what I most enjoy. The volunteers are a great bunch of people who vary in age and backgrounds. I am one of the few retired people.
The National Medal is awarded for 15 years of service. I got my first medal after 15 years in the forces and after another 10 years I got the first clasp.
Following my subsequent service in the SES, I have just received a second clasp, which recognises 35 years of service.
I am also a volunteer with the Bayside branch of Melbourne Legacy, which helps support widows and children of late war veterans. I have been involved with the Bayside branch since 2004 and I was president in 2008-09 and 2010-11.
We visit widows and ensure their basic needs are met and provide them with support and assistance. All of this keeps me sane and very busy.