A new project will focus on supporting and connecting ex-serving, transitioning and current serving veterans as they integrate back into the community.
The St Marys RSL Sub-Branch and St Marys Veterans Support Centre announced the St Marys Veterans Wellbeing Program event this week, which will launch from Wednesday, March 1.
Speaking at St Marys Diggers Club on Monday, St Marys RSL Sub-Branch Honorary Secretary Tony Fryer said the program is a culmination of work over the last few years.
“This has evolved from individual activities that have been going on for years and some new activities that we have put together in a well rounded package,” Fryer said.
“It has been designed to encourage veterans to come and mix with other like-minded individuals and to share their experiences, especially if they have issues as a result of exiting the forces or if they are still serving.”
The activities include weekly coffee catch-ups, computer classes, small bus day trips and guitar classes run by Noro Music Therapy to learn new skills and foster camaraderie.
Spurring on the initiative is the increased need to support the mental health of service personnel as the suicide risk within the defence force has been highlighted.
“A lot of Australian Defence Force personnel have done multiple tours overseas and these sorts of tours can get to you through what they experience and the stress associated with that,” Fryer said.
“It can be very difficult for them to assimilate into civilian life when their time in the Army is over, so we are looking to provide opportunities to ease them back by allowing them to mix with like-minded people.”
The services can also assist veterans with any claims with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs or to seek treatment for any issues.
Praising the program, Member for Londonderry and Sub-Branch Patron Prue Car knows firsthand the importance of the two organisations as her fiancé, Brad Hulls, is a veteran.
“I have personal experience with this and many families will know that veterans transitioning from serving in our defence force to everyday life can be really tough on themselves and their families and St Marys RSL are always looking at new ways like this program to support them,” Car said.
“These brave people have lost many friends over the years, put their lives on the line, and made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms that we enjoy in this country, so the least we can do is support them.”
Along with exercise classes at St Marys Ripples and barefoot bowls at the Diggers Club, Fryer said the range of events will be little to no cost.
“Majority of the cost is covered by St Marys RSL Sub-Branch and we have Brad Hulls, who is a contemporary veteran, to help establish a younger group of people who can be involved with their families,” he said.
Fryer said it’s easy to find out more information.
“People can visit our website www.stmrslsub.com.au or call the Outpost on 9833 4711 to get involved,” he said.
A graduate of Western Sydney University, Emily covers Local, State and Federal politics for the Weekender, as well as crime and general news.