Appeal to the public from a young widow
|As Legacy Week approaches, we think of the families of the brave men and women who have died or been incapacitated during or after their Defence Force Service for our country. Legacy starts assisting the children of our fallen heroes even before they’re born. Our promise is to care for families like Jack’s throughout their lives. That is why your ongoing generosity is so important.|
|Lance Corporal Jessie Feeney and her de-facto husband, Special Forces soldier Private Nathanael “Nate” Galagher, were overjoyed when they learned last year that she was expecting their son. “Best of friends” since meeting when they were both serving in Townsville in 2007, they began excitedly planning their future as a family. Then Nate was called up for his second tour of Afghanistan.|
|Jessie will never forget the day last August that she got the news every army wife dreads. 30-weeks pregnant and about to rush to an obstetrician’s appointment, she heard a knock at the door and three army officials asked if they could come in. They told her that there had been a helicopter crash during a mission in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province and Nate had been one of the two young men killed. Nate was just 23 years old.The memory of their last goodbye is now very bittersweet for Jessie:|
Numb with shock and heavily pregnant, the months that followed were a nightmarish whirlwind. Jessie struggled to attend to arrangements she needed to make for Nate and to get her affairs in order while preparing for baby Jack’s birth without his Dad.
|At the ‘ramp ceremony’ when Nate was brought back home, Jessie was introduced to Phil, her Legacy volunteer helper, called a Legatee. His son is serving in Afghanistan so he and Jessie had a special connection. She felt he could understand a little of what she was going through.|
Jessie came to rely on Phil’s emotional support and listening ear through the grieving process. Legacy could also assist this young family to regain some financial stability during a very uncertain time. A week before Jack was due, Jessie had to see a financial advisor in Sydney and Phil drove her on the 180km round trip from Wollongong.
|“He was a great help in filling out and understanding all the paperwork for things like the Department of Veterans’ Affairs,” she says. “Thanks to this now Jack and I get a fortnightly DVA payment. I was on maternity leave then six months with no pay so that income has been very much appreciated.”|
|With a long history of nurturing the development of children of deceased veterans, Legacy puts a priority on education which enables families access to special grants, scholarships and mentorship programs that assist with education and life choices for their children. They can also enjoy outward bound courses, adventure activities and holiday camps and these programs can introduce children and families to others with a shared experience, providing support, community and opportunities for friendship.|
|“I guess no-one really knows what it feels like to lose someone so close to you unless it’s happened to you. Nothing will ever bring Nate back or my happiness back. But Legacy does take off a big burden. That’s what Nate would have wanted for me and Jack. He would have only wanted the best for us. And with the support I’m getting from Legacy, I feel that is what is happening.”|