One of Australia's most decorated war heroes has urged Australians to welcome veterans into jobs and society as well as mark their war sacrifice.
Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith told a rain-drenched crowd of 30,000 at the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance of the contribution returning soldiers can make.
"The hard-won character, capabilities and skills that defined them in the field are long held staples for life," Mr Roberts-Smith, now a Seven Network executive, told the Anzac Day dawn service.
He said returning from the trauma of war can be tough for men and women in the armed services, but their skills were invaluable for Australian life.
"(They have) a hands-on understanding of how leadership and team work are shared and optimised," he said.
"A deep-seated sense of community and mutual care among the people they work with."
Mr Roberts-Smith said Anzac Day commemorates the lives lost in combat, but it also asks Australians to look to the future.
Shrine of Remembrance chief executive David Lee said the message would resonate with veterans who felt "almost invisible" when they came back from war.
"We have had a number of veterans state to us it's almost as if what they did didn't actually happen," Mr Lee told reporters.
"That's why Anzac Day matters, that's why commemoration maters, because it gives meaning to that service."
David Butcher, 68, travelled from Queensland to Melbourne to march with his father's tank battalion for Anzac Day and said the message rang true.
"There are so many of our returned service people who need our support and help," he told AAP.
Mr Lee said the weather had played a part in keeping crowd numbers down.
"We have around 30,000 attending the dawn service, which was down from the 45,000 we had last year and I think we can put that entirely down to the weather," Mr Lee said.
He said the lack of a gun salute at the service was due to a change in federal government policy.