Steadfast support recognised
SHIRLY Mooney’s support for fellow widows and families of Australian Defence Force veterans over three decades has earned her one of the nation’s highest honours.
The Duncraig resident was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia, announced by Governor-General Peter Cosgrove yesterday.
Mrs Mooney has been involved with many military-related support services, including being a welfare office for the Australian Special Air Services Association since 1993, the Defence Force Welfare Association’s Defence Widows Group convenor since 1999, a treasurer, welfare and pensions officer at Indigenous and Torres Straits Veterans WA for five years and as former president of the Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps Association.
She started nursing school at age 16 and then joined the army to finish her training.
Mrs Mooney was automatically discharged from service when she got married in 1958.
She returned to nursing in 1970 at Hollywood Private Hospital, then the Repatriation General Hospital, for returned service members, where she worked in diagnostics radiology.
Here she noticed a large number of men returning from the Vietnam War with illness, which she attributed to Agent Orange.
Mrs Mooney also experienced a lack of support for her husband, who struggled after leaving the Special Air Service Regiment.
“My husband was very ill when he retired from the services and he got absolutely no assistance whatsoever,” she said.
“When he died (in 1991) I got even less,” she said.
“I thought if I can prevent this in a small way, I would not see another family go through this.”
She completed courses about welfare and pension plans to assist veterans and their families, which she has been doing for the past nearly 30 years.
Mrs Mooney was initially reluctant to accept the honour but did not want to disappoint those who nominated her.
“I believe you volunteer because you want to and not for selfgratification,” she said.
Shirly Mooney has been honoured with the Order of the Medal of Australia for her faithful support of widows and Defence Force families. www.communitypix.com.au d470241