Cr Edwards discussed with Owen and Laurie that the statue needed a story behind it to help people understand the context of the statue. Cr Edwards reflected on the poem and her own journey when asked about the origins of the poem and advised that:
In Jan 2021 I started to reflect on my own experience when I joined, how proud I was, how proud everyone must be to be able to serve our Country, then the chain of events that come after your commitment to serve can have devastating effects on you and your family’s life. I wanted to narrate what I believe to be a real life scenario that our homeless veterans face, I hope now you understand.
Both Laurie and Owen need assistance with the paperwork side of things, and organising the event so this is where Cr Edwards gave them a hand.
Cr Edwards would go to Laurie's home to see the progress of the statue, he had a make shift welding studio under his pergola, seeing how it turned out was remarkable.
I read the poem to the guys for the first time at Rockingham RSL about 6 months ago and they loved it and wanted it to be included.
Laurie is an extremely ill man and was hospitalised twice over this past 2 years, we didn't think he would make it out, or be able to finish this project, so this was really important to him and all of us. With the assistance and encouragement of Laurie’s career, Rose Hubon, the project was completed.
She was part of the Aeromedical Evacuation Team for the Bali Bombings in 2002. The poem was influenced by her own trauma of losing friends to suicide post returning from traumatic events whilst serving, which is connected with the plight of the homeless veteran, who are at high risk of drug/alcohol abuse which increases the likelihood of suicide.
The Homeless Soldier Poem – reprinted with the kind permission of Cr Hayley Edwards:
THE HOMELESS SOLDIER BY HAYLEY EDWARDS
It was I, whose name was called into ranks felt purpose, as I pledged my life.
It was I, who served our Nations flag, trusting my sacrifices would make it better for all,
It was I, who marched our land with chin in the air and heart full of pride,
It was I, that forged true mateship, and watched too many of them die,
It was I, who headed home with hardened heart, that hid a deeper sorrow,
It was I, who on the journey home held so much hope for today,
and peace for tomorrow,
It was I, who knew the moment I walked through the door,
our lives would never be the same,
Our lives forever changed,
It was I, who struggled to restore my families, respect, love, and trust,
Now it is I, alone and weary wandering for a safe place to rest,
Now it is I, and my black plastic bag that holds all that remains of my life’s quest.
Now it is I, reaching out my hand hoping you will see me.
Now you know me.
I am Australia’s, homeless soldier.
“The Homeless Soldier”, Copyright © 2021 by Hayley Edwards. Reprint with permission only.