By Evelyn Leckie
OVER the past 22 years, Tony Comley has raised more than $1 million for Vietnam war veterans, with the help of Whittlesea businesses.
Mr Comley has sold badges, scarves, poppies and rattled his donation tin around the Diamond Valley area all the way into the heart of Melbourne’s Central Business District to raise funds for veterans’ welfare fund.
The volunteer said over the years he was determined to get the necessary money for veterans who have protected Australia and made the ultimate sacrifice.
“The Vietnam veterans were shunned, ignored by the Department of Veterans Affairs, people were killed and injured and they’re still regrettably taking their lives,” he said.
“The Vietnam Veterans needed to form their own association to look after themselves – so I wanted to help.”
On Friday, Diamond Valley Vietnam veterans Alan Comben and Peter Blackman met with Mr Comley and business owners to thank them for their efforts.
“We’re very thankful for their work, by selling badges and essentially rattling the tin for 22 years – it’s all added up to over a million dollars,” Mr Blackman said.
Mr Comley said he had received tremendous support from businesses in Whittlesea.
“Whittlesea News Xpress owners Robyn and Neil Ritchie have printed hundreds of fundraising materials for me,” Mr Comley said.
“Manager of Whittlesea IGA Luke Davies welcomes me into his store to fundraise when it’s freezing cold.
“John Solly, from Whittlesea Industrial Supplies, welded my trolley I rely on when I’m fundraising.”
The long-standing volunteer said he was especially thankful for the public for reaching into their pockets and assisting a worthy cause.
“We’re so lucky that our veterans kept us safe,” Mr Comley said.
“When I was a kid, I didn’t get it. Mum told me to walk outside in the paddocks of Bundoora and as I got older I understood – we have people all over the world wanting to come here, and we’re lucky that our veterans fought for us.”
Mr Comley was made an honorary member of the Diamond Valley Vietnam Veterans on Friday.