In 2020, 101-year-old Sergeant Bert Le-Merton saw the devastatingly high rate of suicide within the veteran community. He sought to make a positive difference to the lives of those that have served.
On 15 August, the World War Two veteran took his first steps towards walking an accumulative 96 kilometres, the length of the Kokoda track, in a bid to raise funds for life-changing support services through veteran charity, Soldier On. His fundraising goal was $10,000.
Quickly surpassing his initial targets and seeing his efforts draw more attention to the conversation of veteran welfare, Sergeant Bert continued his march. He would eventually walk more than 420 kilometres and raise $116,121.
Sergeant Bert’s actions and compassion for his fellow Australians inspired the nation. It led to more than 6,200 people taking a stance on veteran suicide as a part of the ‘March On Challenge’ – raising over $1.85 million.
A self-proclaimed ‘ordinary bloke’, Sergeant Bert has achieved extraordinary things in service of his fellow Australians.