A PLAYGROUND, rather than a nearby cenotaph, was where Afghanistan war veteran John Gosling chose to impart the importance of Anzac Day to his young son Alex.
Wednesday morning's march in Maroochydore was the first time the former ordnance specialist had taken his boy with him for commemorations.
"I come to the dawn service on my own - everyone is normally asleep," Mr Gosling, 32, said.
"It is a bit much to pull a toddler out of bed at that time of the morning.
"I thought... I'll take him out and show him the parade and see if it is something he is into so when he gets older he might actually enjoy coming to these things."
He said his son was on the autism spectrum and was quite wary of crowds.
"But horses, trucks, fire trucks, that sort of thing - that got him hooked in.
"I think he is oblivious to everything that is going on over there (at the service) but he is having fun in the park which is all that matters."
He said the nearby sombre environment didn't really suit his son.
"It is more to involve him in something that I do every year and see if we can make a bit of a day of it for dad and son at the same time."
Mr Gosling married his wife Melanie and they moved from Newcastle to the Sunshine Coast in 2011 shortly after he discharged from the army.
He had served for eight years, including a nine-month tour of Afghanistan in 2008 and 2009.
"We decided it was time to take a bit of a step back from the speed of the army and settle down and kind of pulled the Sunshine Coast out of a hat."
He was a fly-in, fly-out worker for a while until taking a job in logistics.
"Less bombs, less explosions and less bullets, but still moving things around."
He said it wasn't until Anzac Day when he saw people wearing medals that he appreciated how many veterans were on the Coast.
"I think there is a lot more of an emphasis now on the younger veterans.
"I don't think it's really a forgotten part of it any more."
"It is an amazing thing to put your medals on and walk around on Anzac Day and people come up to you and want to chat to you and say hello.
"I certainly don't think we get the stigma that the guys used to get where they weren't as welcomed back."
Mr Gosling knew of young veterans and wounded warriors groups through following them on social media but said he was yet to find the time to join.
"If you are of the age like me and you want to get involved it's easy to do when you are kind of ready to get involved."
He said the benefit of such groups came in seeing veterans who had "come out the other side".
"There is a whole spectrum of guys who have had physical and mental issues that have struggled and everyone knows of people that haven't quite made it through that."
But he said the majority of veterans went on to lead successful careers, raise families and enjoy life.
"I think that, above all of the counselling and all of the other services that are there for veterans, just being around other veterans who have got on with life and made that transition happily and comfortably is kind of a good influence on the guys who aren't doing so well."