They have played a crucial but largely unsung role on battlefields and beyond in more than a century of conflicts since the Boer War.

Now the lifesaving heroics of the armed forces' nurses have been honoured at the launch of this year's Queensland Poppy Appeal.

Retired and serving medics marked the launch of the 2013 appeal by laying flowers at the services' nursing memorial in Brisbane's Anzac Square on Monday.

They included veterans of the Vietnam, Iraq and East Timor conflicts.

Defence Service Nurses RSL Queensland branch president Wendy Taylor served as a captain in the army, including the Gulf War and East Timor, and says nurses were an integral part of the war effort.

"We are there at the front, at the battlefield. We aid and assist the injured and then of course we bring them back home.

"The RSL is where we then continue that service by providing help and care to both ex and current serving members (of the armed forces) through lots of different programs."

Nurses care for soldiers, sailors and air crew in the field and then at every step of their treatment - from the theatre to bringing them back on aircraft to their home country.

RSL veterans services manager Tom Le Cornu said nurses often put themselves in tough battlefield situations.

"We talk about the mental strain it (war) has on a soldier walking with a rifle but (nurses) are the ones who are flying to every single casualty site and seeing the guys shot first hand," he said.

"If it is going to have an effect on anyone it is more than possible going to be these guys too.

"This is an opportunity for us to support them and essentially say thanks and remember."

 

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