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My father Doug “Slug” Lewis, and his wife Lynne recently lost the entire contents of their home, and much more during the Cyclone Debbie Flood in March 2017.Dad is a Vietnam Veteran, who whilst serving his country in the Australian Army, was shot numerous times, whilst on active duty in the jungle of Vietnam. He sustained horrific injuries from this, resulting in loosing one kidney, and part of his liver. He was 21 years of age. He is only alive today due to the bravery of his companions, who managed to drag him to safety and have him evacuated. Prior to this, Doug was involved in the Battle of Balmoral/Coral in Vietnam, which has recently been described as the bloodiest war the Australian Army engaged in during the entire Vietnam War. This terrible battle saw Dad and his regiment of brave soldiers having to fix bayonets, and fight for their lives. The stories Dad has told of the atrocities of this war are horrendous, and something no one should have been forced to endure. Doug was also directly affected by the hideous chemical “Agent Orange” during his active service. His injuries very nearly claimed his life, required extensive surgery, recovery time, and took away his life in the infantry. This however was only the beginning of his life time battle with post traumatic stress disorder, and the ongoing affects of Agent Orange. This has not been an easy battle to fight. When it was deemed that he could no longer continue to work at the age of 40 because of what he had suffered during the war, Doug had to battle with the government to prove his injuries were “war related” to allow him to claim any sort of financial assistance. He and his wife were raising four children. Still they battled on and persisted. Doug continues to battle with his health. He has had over 100 skin cancers removed, and now is fighting leukaemia and lymphoma. He does this while wearing a brave face, and a sense of humour, refusing to allow his family to see what he is really facing. We see it at times. During the hospital stays, the skin cancer removals, the days he is too sick to move, when he is unable to eat, when he is stricken with pain, the weight loss. We see it all then…During the recent floods during Cyclone Debbie in March 2017, without any warning, the home that Doug and Lynne have lived in for over 30 years was suddenly inundated with water. They lost absolutely everything. An entire lifetime of possessions and memories. All gone without any warning whatsoever. Dad’s only passion during much of his life was breeding and raising parrots. He lost all of these as well. As the flood waters rapidly rose, he had to swim out to his aviaries, with the help of his neighbour, and make the heart wrenching decision to cut all the wire on every cage and release every bird he had in order to save their lives. At this stage, the flood water was above their heads, and he had to tread water to save them all. Despite extensive support and sharing through social media, he only ever recovered four of them. During this ordeal as the waters rose around them, they could not get any emergency assistance. No one could get to them. No one could get them out. They were totally isolated, and at the mercy of the rising water. Mum cannot swim. Just down the road, an entire house was washed away, and still they were left unaided, watching and waiting. Due to my own personal battles at the time, they were also looking after my two young pups when the flood hit. Dad saved my girl from drowning, and when they were finally told that they may perhaps be evacuated from the flood water if they left the dogs behind, they refused to leave them. When the waters receded, then the trauma of the clean up began. It was “black” water, and everything it touched had to go. Watching everything they owned go to the dump was absolutely numbing. Still they kept going, grateful for what little they could salvage, and even more grateful for the army of supporters that came to their aid and helped them clean, brought them food, clothing and hope. Doug and Lynne are battlers. They have dedicated their lives to raising their children, and even now are continuing to help support some of their grandchildren during times of crisis. Lynne was a very active member of the local netball community for many years, and has been a recipient of an Australian Day Medal for her volunteer work. Doug and Lynne were declared number one hit within their community, but have not asked for anything. They have only received an extremely minimal flood recovery payment from the government, which I believe would not even equate to a single pension payment. They were fortunate enough to have part of their house covered by insurance, but no contents. They are having to start again. From scratch, as an elderly couple, who have been pensioners for over 30 years. They are currently living in a caravan in their backyard, as they did not want to leave their surviving pets, or see them in foster care. They need to rebuild their home, and recover the basic needs. Despite their home being under almost 1.5m of water, which totally submerged their toilets and bathrooms, the insurance company will not cover these areas. This is not included in the policy. Neither is any floor coverings, curtains, any furniture, linen, clothing, electrical appliances, white goods, power tools etc. They also need to pay trades people to complete anything out of the scope of works set by the insurance company, which includes laying floor coverings, replacing bathrooms, toilets etc. They have began the difficult process of trying to use their entire life savings to complete their home, so that they can be comfortable while Doug continues to fight his illnesses. He is sick, he is tired, he is fighting, they deserve more. They have been fortunate and very grateful to have been supported by some beautiful friends and people in the community, who have come forward with some large ticket items and furniture. However this is only the tip of the iceberg. I have sat through this process with them, and I know they simply cannot afford the task ahead of them. It is heart wrenching to watch them struggle with the stress of trying to make it all work, while watching Dad struggle with his cancers, and mum suffer through the daily stress of dealing with everything. This is my parents’ story. They are too proud to ask for help, and certainly do not expect it. Dad’s entire life has been impacted by his service in a terrible war. He lost so much then, and it has taken from him all his life in the form of PTSD, and other illnesses related to his horrific war injuries. Even now as the cancers continue to take away his health, he asks for nothing. He never has, and he never will. Dad and Mum deserve to live their remaining years in the humble home they built 30 years ago, with just the basic necessities to allow them to regain what they lost. Dad deserves to fight his cancer with a roof over his head, clean, working toilets, and floor coverings under his feet. Mum does not deserve the stress of worrying how they pay to get their house back together, while supporting Dad’s sickness.They are my humble heroes, and asking for help is something that they would never do on their own. They are not going to be happy that I am asking for them.Please help them get back the basic necessities so that they can recover what they have lost, and allow them to continue their journey with basic comfort and dignity, as they continue to fight the terrible disease that inflicts a true Australian war hero. They simply deserve better.

Thank you!