Former Mount Evelyn RSL president receives meritorious award

Roger Boness will receive a Meritorious Service Medal for his dedication to the Mount Evelyn RSL. Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS. 232205_04

By Mikayla van Loon

With 11 plus years of service to Mount Evelyn RSL, Roger Boness has been a stalwart in the community for that time and this weekend he will be recognised with the RSL Victoria Meritorious Service Medal.

The award will be presented by State Vice President Terry Makings AM on Sunday 26 June but unfortunately, coming down with Covid, Mr Boness himself won’t be able to attend the event, sending his family to receive the honour on his behalf.

Nevertheless, the award came as quite a surprise for the longtime RSL member and former president.

“It’s a very well respected award and I must say, I was a bit overwhelmed by it all. These awards seem to be tumbling from all different places,” he said.

“It’s quite humbling that there’s people out there who seem to think that I deserve these sorts of awards for just being part of our community.”

While Mr Boness’s link to Mount Evelyn RSL goes back to the 1970s after returning from the Vietnam War and although he was a member of various clubs before settling in Dandenong Ranges town, it was the last 11 years on the committee where he made the most difference.

“When myself and others came along into the committee positions, we started on the premise that every vibrant community, and I think Mount Evelyn is a vibrant community, deserves a fully functioning RSL,” he said.

This award, when put alongside the others, Mr Boness said ranks pretty high because it recognises consistency of service.

“It’s not for a one off effort or just for some incidental activity, it’s for continuous work over a long period of time.”

Even though the medal is being awarded to him directly, Mr Boness said he would be accepting it on behalf of the entire RSL community for their dedication to the club and to supporting veterans.

“I’m only one person in the RSL. The RSL is not me and it’s not you. It’s us as a group.

“As a group, our little RSL achieves a heck of a lot for the size of us and that’s because all of the members and the committee of the RSL all contribute to its success.”

Making a promise to himself and to the broader community when he could give more time to the RSL after retiring, Mr Boness never wanted a veteran or person in the community to feel as though they weren’t welcome.

“When we came back from Vietnam, we weren’t welcomed by anyone, not by the government, not by the community, not by the Department of Veteran Affairs, not by anyone except by our own personal families.

“We were crying out for help and none was forthcoming. When I became a senior position member on the committee, I vowed that our local veterans and their families in need would never be without whilst we were there doing what we do best.

“I’m glad to say we’ve been able to achieve all those aims.”

Sunday’s event will begin at 2pm, with all welcome to share in the celebration and afternoon tea.