Why we should support our veterans transition

By Soldier On CEO and Co-Founder, John Bale


We live in a very lonely society. Our only relief is whatever deep connections we might be lucky enough to make. There are few deeper connections than those forged under the great stress of conflict or shared sacrifice.

Typically, people sign up to the Defence Force when they are still young. They join a tightly knit community where they put the team and the mission above themselves.

But military service carries a sting in the tail.

When veterans leave, it is often the most stressful period in their life. Cut adrift from the mateship, rituals, and life-and-death bonds of their service identity, civilian society can appear alien and alienating. In military-speak it is called “transition”. And for many veterans, it is scarier than war.

In his latest book, “Tribe”, the US war correspondent Sebastian Junger dives into the heart of this mystery. Why was it that only ten percent of US forces deployed to Afghanistan saw combat, yet close to 50 percent have subsequently filed for PTSD disability payments?  Junger identifies a psychological disturbance as profound and deadly as post-combat trauma, and which shares many of its symptoms. He calls it “transition disorder.”

Although US and Australian societies are different in important ways, Junger’s conclusion resonates here. Contemporary veterans can suffer a loss of confidence and identity during transition. We see it all the time. Veterans don’t know where they fit in, and Australian society is still struggling to understand who they are.

It is tough enough for those veterans who make their own choice to leave the military. It can be far worse for those being discharged on medical grounds.

Making transition more complicated is no two veterans have the same experience.

While supporting veterans we need to guard against a “victim” narrative, where civilians view all veterans as damaged and deserving of pity.  Veterans are not victims. They are our national heroes. They are assets to our country, both in uniform and out of it. Some veterans may be impacted by their experiences, but all our veterans deserve the right support and opportunities to build successful futures after their service to Australia. More than just deserving this, veterans have remarkable skillsets and personal attributes Australia needs to start recognising.

Many of the serious issues within the veteran community can be traced back to a failure to re-integrate veterans into the community during the transition phase. Our veterans have played an important role in keeping our country safe. What veterans need is employment opportunities that allow them to continue living life with such purpose and pride.

They also need support.

Those with physical or psychological impacts from their service may need support in overcoming injury and mental health challenges. With the right support, there is hope these veterans can rebuild their lives and continue to contribute to society.

But we also must look after those veterans who currently say they are ok. We know mental health illnesses can bubble to the surface at any stage, and we need processes in place to check in on our veterans from time-to-time. Looking after them immediately after war is not enough, we need to look after them for the rest of their lives.

Providing this kind of support and employment opportunities is key to ensuring we do not fail this generation of veterans like we failed the last generation.

In a society that places employment at the centre of our social worth, giving veterans a hand-up but not a hand-out in finding new work is the greatest gesture of support a nation can offer.  Thanking veterans for their service is bigger than a bumper sticker. Help us find great work for the people who committed themselves to keeping us safe. Australia’s Veterans will overwhelmingly succeed in any business or volunteering role they take on.

Soldier On’s Veteran and Family Employment Opportunities

Yesterday Australian media heavily covered Soldier On’s new Veteran and Family Support program, which directly supports the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Initiative announced earlier today.

This program, which we spent 12 months researching and developing, is an exciting step forward for veterans and their families. It is not just about creating job opportunities. It is about providing veterans and their families with vital support services, resources and opportunities to build success, happy futures post service to Australia.

After all they have sacrificed – after all they have done for our country – this is the least we can do for them. As our CEO and Co-Founder, John Bale says “it is about giving veterans a hand-up not a hand-out”. Our veterans are not victims. They are remarkable assets and have a lot to give to Australian Industry and community.

Our program is about recognising our veterans’ remarkable skillsets, training and experiences. In return we encourage industry to provide them with fitting job opportunities. Our veterans have been leaders in uniform, lets allow them to also be leaders out of it.

So what do you need to know about Soldier On’s Veteran and Family Support Program?

Soldier On has identified transitioning from the military to civilian life is a stressful experience for veterans and their families. That’s why we have hired a team of experts to help veterans and their families better navigate this process.

To help veterans forge new career paths and overcome any impacts from their service, we provide the following services:

Employment Support Services

  • Soldier On has Veteran and Family Support Officers working in our centres that specialise in helping veterans and their families forge new career paths after leaving the military.
  • These services are open to all veterans who have served in the Defence Force since 1990, as well as their family members.
  • These services will help veterans leverage existing skillsets for civilian employment, identify gaps in their skillsets and identify appropriate training, education and career development opportunities to forge new career paths.
  • Veteran and Family Support Officers will also work on short-term and long-term employment goals with veterans, recognising many will need to earn an income while they pursue a new career.
  • Ensure veterans and their family members are prepped and suited for job opportunities. If unsuccessful, Soldier On will continue to support you not only through employment and training opportunities but through social connected activities and psychological support, if required.
  • For those unable to return to paid employment, Soldier On is setting up volunteer opportunities so there is the chance to continue to engage with others and connect with the community.
  • As well as through our centres, these services are available via Skype and phone meetings.

Mental Health Support

  • Soldier On provides evidence-based psychology treatments to veterans who have been affected by their service, as well as their family members, including partners, children, parents and siblings.
  • Veterans do not have to have deployed to be eligible for this service.
  • Our psychologists have specific experience in supporting those who have served.
  • Our psychologists have specific knowledge, training and experience in working with people affected by trauma, including traumas not related to combat.
  • We can help with:
    • Transition from military to civilian life
    • Impact of deployment/separation/relocation and family integration
    • Complex Trauma/PTSD and stress-related issues
    • Mood disorders, such as depression
    • Anxiety disorders
    • Relationship and interpersonal difficulties
    • Chronic pain and injury adjustment concerns
  • Our psychology services incur no out of pocket expenses to veterans and their family members.
  • There are no limits on the number of sessions allowed.

Social Connected Activities and Programs

  • Soldier On offers a range of social connected activities and programs to encourage veterans and their families to reconnect with themselves, their loved ones and the wider community.
  • Social connected activities and programs have a range of purposes and benefits, from forming part of a veteran’s mental health treatment to allowing veterans to connect with other veterans and families and build vital support networks.
  • Soldier On offers a range of programs and activities, ensuring there is something for everyone. Examples include:
    • Soldier On’s Surf ‘Therapy’ Program
    • Golf days
    • Coffee catch-ups
    • Art classes
    • Creative writing classes
    • Music classes
    • Yoga classes
    • Men’s and women’s weekend workshops
    • Family days
    • Sailing days
    • Cycling programs
    • Learn to play programs
    • Volunteering programs and opportunities

You do not have to access all our support services. Some veterans or family members may just want help forging a new career path. Others may want to access our mental health support services. And some people may just want to catch up with other veterans and families and attend our social connected activities and programs. We encourage veterans and their families to connect with Soldier On to access any of these services.

We acknowledge the experiences veterans have endured throughout their military experience will stay with them for life, which means we will be here to support them for today, tomorrow and the rest of their life.

To register for this program, please email your name, contact details and location to veteranemployment@soldieron.org.au

Soldier On launches program to help veterans and families secure jobs

MEDIA RELEASE & INTERVIEW OPPORTUNITY
Wednesday, 16 November 2016


Soldier On launches program to help veterans and families secure jobs

This morning News Corp published how ex-ADF will be fast-tracked to success as they transition to civilian life through Soldier On’s Veteran and Family Support Program. As the concept developers of the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Initiative, this program will directly support Mr Turnbull’s initiative.

Veterans and their family members will be automatically pushed through to interview stages for job opportunities, should they have the right skills, training and experience.

Several organisations have already committed to the program, including Defence primes, big four consultancy firms, major banks, project management firms and some of the leading ICT cloud companies. Soldier On will work with industry to educate them about the remarkable skillsets, training and experiences of our modern veterans.

In addition to job opportunities, Soldier On has launched its Veteran and Family Support Program, which they spent 12 months researching and developing. This program includes new employment support services in addition to their existing mental health support services and social connected activities and programs.

Veterans and their family members will be able to access employment support services through Soldier On’s reintegration and recovery centres, as well as through phone and Skype meetings. Soldier On will help veterans leverage existing skillsets for civilian employment, identify gaps in their skillsets and identify appropriate training, education and career development opportunities to forge new career paths.

Soldier On will also work on short-term and long-term employment goals with veterans, recognising many will need to earn an income while they pursue a new career.

This program, including the job opportunities, is the first of its kind in Australia.

“Our program and these job opportunities aren’t about helping veterans and their families for a short period. It is about saying to our contemporary veterans we here for you whenever you need a helping hand for the rest of your life – because that’s the level of support our veterans and their families deserve,” said Mr Bale.

Interview Opportunity:

John Bale, CEO and Co-Founder of Soldier On is available for interview. Please contact Nicole Thomson-Pride, Communications & Media Manager, to organise a time.

Nicole Thomson-Pride

Communications & Media Manager, Soldier On

nicole.thomson-pride@soldieron.org.au

0428 076 773

Soldier On Calls on Australia: Don’t Let History Repeat Itself

MEDIA RELEASE 
Friday, 11 November 2016


Soldier On calls on Australia: Don’t let history repeat itself

  • Soldier On says we must learn from past generations to save the lives of veterans
  • Soldier On launches new program to help veterans and their families build successful futures
  • Soldier On asks Australian industry to take a pledge to create job opportunities for veterans and their families

This Remembrance Day not-for-profit veteran organisation Soldier On is calling on the Australian community to pledge their support to our veterans and stop history from repeating.

Soldier On CEO and Co-Founder, John Bale says we need to learn from past generations, particularly from the Vietnam War era, and ensure our veterans are provided the right support services and opportunities to build successful futures after their service to Australia.

“Our veterans are ordinary people who have done extraordinary things. We cannot, like we have done so in the past, just forget about them the day they take off their uniform.”

“We need to do more than just remember and honour their service and sacrifices.”

“The best way we can demonstrate our sincere gratitude to them is by recognising their skill sets and providing them with job opportunities post their service to Australia,” said Mr Bale.

After 12 months of research, Soldier On has developed a world-class Veteran and Family Support Program, which they believe will save the lives of veterans. The program will be delivered by a team of in-house experts focusing on employment and psychological services as well as social connected activities and programs.

Part of Soldier On’s program involves asking Australian industry to pledge their commitment to provide veterans and their families with job opportunities and better understand and recognise their experiences, skills and training.

This pledge is the first of its kind in Australia and several organisations have already committed to take it, including Defence primes, big four consultancy firms, major banks, project management firms and some of the leading ICT cloud companies.

“This pledge and our program isn’t about helping veterans and their families for a short period. It is about saying to our contemporary veterans we are here for you whenever you need a helping hand for the rest of your life – because that’s the level of support our veterans and their families deserve,” said Mr Bale.

Earlier in the year the Prime Minister announced his Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Initiative, noting Soldier On’s key involvement, as the concept developers, during his announcement. Soldier On’s new Veteran and Family Support program ensures veterans and their families have access to support, as well as job opportunities, setting them up for continued success.

 

 Nicole Thomson-Pride

Communications & Media Manager, Soldier On

nicole.thomson-pride@soldieron.org.au

0428 076 773

Soldier On launches new services to help veteran forge new careers

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MEDIA RELEASE and INTERVIEW OPPORTUNITY

Monday, 7th November

Soldier On launches services to help veterans forge new careers

  • Soldier On is launching new services to help veterans secure employment after service
  • Soldier On Veteran and Family Support Officers will deliver services to veterans and families across the country
  • CEO John Bale is available for interview Tuesday, 8th November 2016

Not-for-profit veteran organisation Soldier On today launched new services to help ex-servicemen and women forge new career paths once they leave the military.

These new services will be delivered by Soldier On Veteran and Family Support Officers in reintegration and recovery centres around Australia, as well as online. The services will help veterans leverage existing skillsets for civilian employment, identify gaps in their skillsets and identify appropriate training, education and career development opportunities to forge new career paths.

Veteran and Family Support Officers will also work on short and long-term employment goals with veterans, recognising many will need to earn an income while they pursue a new career.

CEO and Co-Founder of Soldier On, John Bale, an Afghanistan veteran, says these services are key to ensuring our veterans have the right skills and opportunities to succeed in their career post service.

“Our veterans have played a really important role in keeping our country safe. As a nation and community we must look after them once they decide to leave the Defence Force. I cannot think of a better way to do this than by ensuring they are given the right services, support, resources and opportunities to go on and forge new career paths once they leave the military. That’s what these new services are here to provide.”

“Soldier On believes helping veterans successfully transition from the military to civilian life is the foundation to preventing veterans spiraling downwards emotionally and mentally. We believe these new services, in addition to our existing services, will save the lives of veterans,” said John Bale.

These services are open to all veterans who have left the Defence Force. As some veterans may be psychologically or physically impacted from their service to Australia, these services are also open to spouses of veterans ensuring the family unit has access to the right opportunities to build successful futures.

They will be offered in addition to Soldier On’s existing services, which include mental health support through free counselling sessions with a Soldier On psychologist and social inclusion programs and activities, which help veterans reconnect with themselves, their loved ones and the wider community.

Soldier On is also working with Australian industry, the Prime Minister and Minister for Veterans’ Affairs to ensure the skillsets of veterans are recognised and they are given the right opportunities.

Interview Opportunity:

John Bale, CEO and Co-Founder of Soldier On will be available for interviews on Tuesday, 8th November 2016 between 9am and 11am.

For more information contact:

Nicole Thomson-Pride

Communications & Media Manager, Soldier On

nicole.thomson-pride@soldieron.org.au

0428 076 773

Soldier On Encourages Australians to Host a BBQ this November

MEDIA RELEASE

Tuesday, 1st November 2016

Soldier On encourages Australians to host a BBQ this November

  • Soldier On launches ‘Host a BBQ and help veterans soldier on’ campaign
  • Soldier On encourages Australians to host a BBQ and raise money for Soldier On
  • Yesterday Soldier On launched new services to help veterans forge new careers
  • Money raised throughout campaign will help Soldier On deliver more services to veterans

Not-for-profit veteran organisation Soldier On today launched their ‘Host a BBQ and help veterans soldier on’ campaign, which will run throughout the month of November.

This November Soldier On is asking Australian community organisations, industry and individuals to host a BBQ at their workplace or in their backyard to raise money for Soldier On.

CEO and Co-Founder of Soldier On, John Bale – a veteran – said this campaign is being embraced across Australia but he encourages more Australians to get behind it.

“It is great to see so many Australians showing their support of our contemporary veterans this November by hosting a barbecue and raising money for Soldier On. We know of barbecue being held in our capital cities, as well as in regional places such as Townsville, Bunbury, Mount Isa, Kalgoorlie, Parkes and Sale – and many other places – but we would love to see more Australians get behind this campaign and host a barbecue.”

Soldier On delivers a range of services to those who have served Australia in the years since 1990, as well as their family members, including:

  • Mental health support through free counselling sessions with a Soldier On psychologist;
  • Social connected programs and activities to help veterans reconnect with themselves, their loved ones and the wider community; and
  • Employment, training and education services and opportunities to help veterans and their families successfully transition from the military to civilian life and forge new career paths.

“The past year Soldier On has expanded its services to focus on a veteran’s wellbeing, community and future. We now have dedicated staff to provide veterans with mental health support, social connected programs and activities, and employment, training and education services and opportunities to help veterans and their families forge new career paths post service to Australia. The money raised from this campaign will us provide these services to more veterans and their families.”

In addition to supporting veterans with a range of services, Soldier On is also working with Australian industry, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs to create employment opportunities for veterans and their spouses.

Visit www.soldieron.org.au to find out more about their Host a BBQ and help veterans soldier on campaign.

For more information contact:

Nicole Thomson-Pride

Communications & Media Manager, Soldier On

nicole.thomson-pride@soldieron.org.au

0428 076 773