Supporting our Veterans journey from military to civilian life

At BAE Systems Australia, we are extremely proud of the brave men and women who have served our country and are grateful for their sacrifice.  Since 2015, BAE Systems has been partnering with Soldier On, as they work side by side with those who serve and protect Australia and their families. This partnership combines financial support, in-kind donations and ongoing employee fundraising and volunteering initiatives. Recognising the benefits of this external support service for veteran employees, BAE Systems Australia formed its own Veterans Advisory Committee (VAC).  Mat is one of those who led the initiative of the VAC. A veteran himself and former CEO of Soldier On, he is now working in Business Development at BAE Systems. Mat says the VAC was created as he saw a need for BAE Systems Australia to be able to provide a voice and ongoing support to veterans and their families who work within the business.  ‘We wanted to facilitate a culture that really embraces the strengths of a veteran’s workforce.’ 

‘We wanted to facilitate a culture that really embraces the strengths of a veteran’s workforce.’

As well as providing ongoing support to veterans at a peer-to-peer level, Mat also recognised that it was important to assist veterans as they navigate their way out of the Defence force and transfer into a civilian workplace like BAE Systems. 

‘We wanted to be at the forefront of assisting veterans as they translate their skills and experiences to be relevant in our business. Often when these men and women come out of the Defence force, they don’t know how to translate their skills, experiences, expertise, and character traits to be relevant in a civilian setting.’ ‘…A lot of people, especially those who have served for a significant part of their life, only know that service and there are so many new things that they need to encounter when joining a civilian workforce like ours, that we would probably take for granted. Having the VAC there as that point of contact can help that navigation.’  Having had extremely close ties with the Australian Defence Force industries for decades, establishing a Veterans Advisory Committee within the company to provide this support for employees was a natural process for BAE Systems.  ‘What we’re trying to do is to say that when you join our ranks in BAE Systems you are just as a part of the overall defence and national security enterprise, as you were when you were in uniform.’  ‘Instead of being on the frontline, you’re playing key roles to develop the future ships and weapons systems, which are still so important and essential to ensuring that the men and women who are on the frontline are able to do their jobs.’  This support which the VAC provides to the 500+ veterans within the company is needed now in 2020, more than ever. 

Mat, along with many others, has encountered and seen through his own eyes the effects of serving and the mental burden and toll it can take on some. Having lost some of his classmates from the Australian Defence Force to suicide, he says acknowledging the problem is the first step:  ‘I’ve seen up close the impacts that the service can have on men and women, both really closely with my friends and then with Soldier On. I’ve seen firsthand these strong men and women who I always looked up to and idolised almost become a shell of themselves.’

Hoping to make a difference, the Committee, which consists of nine other veteran employees within the company, has worked hard to ensure there is a strong membership base within the company which includes both men and women and their families from diverse backgrounds: age, culture and military experiences. Having this broad range of members involved ensures all veterans who join will receive the ongoing support they need.  

SGT Bert Smashes $102k at 102 Years

MEDIA RELEASE: Australia gives the gift of giving to celebrate Sergeant Bert Le-Merton’s 102nd Birthday – Smashing $102K in funds raised to help prevent veteran suicide. 

November 18 2020, Sergeant Bert Le-Merton (Ret’d) celebrated his 102nd birthday. 

To mark the occasion, the Australian public rallied behind the World War II veteran and helped him surpass $102,000 raised through his March On Challenge fundraiser. 

On August 15 2020, Sergeant Bert set out to walk the Soldier On March On Challenge with the hope of raising $10,000 – A target which he surpassed on the evening of August 14. 

In the subsequent months, Sergeant Bert averaged 1.75KM a day and he completed his initial objective of walking 96KM (the length of the Kokoda Track) on October 10 – Greeted at the finish line by the Australian Federation Guard which lined Bert’s street in a guard of honour, a sign of gratitude for his support of our contemporary veterans. 

“That’s the objective of my existence currently”. – Sergeant Bert speaking of his March On Challenge. 

In the week prior to his birthday, Sergeant Bert received a phone call from Prime Minister Scott Morrison.  

The Prime Minister wished him a happy forth-coming birthday and congratulated him on his amazing efforts with his March On fundraiser. 

Sergeant Bert told Mr Morrison “Unfortunately, there are some people who are unable to transition into civilian life. It’s associations like Soldier on that has encouraged me to try and help those younger personnel who are leaving the services for one reason or another. They need assistance and Soldier On is helping them in that way. That’s the objective of my existence currently, is to ensure that that continues to happen.” 

Boeing Secures More Funding for Veterans

In observance of Remembrance Day in Australia, Boeing today announced a $14.2 million charitable grants package supporting 97 veterans organisations worldwide which includes Soldier On as a recipient. Investments will fund veterans workforce transition services and recovery and rehabilitation programs through 2021 and beyond.

“During this challenging time, Boeing is proud to partner with leading veterans organisations to provide our global veteran communities and their families with essential workforce transition support, and recovery and rehabilitation programs that address mental health,” said Boeing President and CEO Dave Calhoun.

“Boeing has a strong and storied history of supporting veterans during and after their time of service,” said Boeing’s Director of Veterans Outreach Jason Pak. “Through our new, industry-leading workforce training program, we will help thousands of veterans and military spouses transition into better jobs, which in turn creates better opportunities for them, their families, Boeing and the entire aerospace industry.”

The latest investment builds on Boeing’s long-standing commitment to veterans and their families. Since 2017, Boeing has donated $41.6 million in support of veterans programs globally.

Soldier On will receive grant funding from Boeing, referred to as “Boeing dollars” which will support social connections activities and continue to fund the Boeing Veterans & Family Engagement Program. The program has enabled a team of psychologists to perform over 1,000 mental health interventions for service members and their families since 2018. Boeing dollars will also support the Pathways program, which has helped more than 150 veterans receive job placements since 2018.

Remembrance Day Field of Poppies at Soldier On

On the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour, each year Australians around the world will observe a minutes silence to reflect on the service and sacrifice of those who have died in wars, conflict, and peacekeeping operations, to protect our nation.

Commemorating those who died or suffered in all wars and armed conflicts will be different this year given the COVID-19 pandemic.  This Remembrance Day, Soldier On will be creating a field of poppies to honour those who have served in the Australian Defence Force and paid the ultimate sacrifice. The poppy are the flowers that grew on the battlefields after World War One ended and have become a symbol to remember those who lost their lives in conflicts around the world.

Solider On Australia’s CEO, Ivan Slavich, says “Remembrance Day is a day for the Australian public to show their respect and acknowledge the sacrifices of our service men and women. As a community, Australia needs to come together to ensure that our veterans and their families are adequately supported.  It’s no secret that 2020 has been a tough year for all Australians, with the devastating bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic, we have relied on the support of many of our servicemen and women, and in-turn their families during these times.”

Sergeant Bert Le Merton, Patron of Soldier On’s March On campaign, said “Whilst we remember today those members of our armed forces who have died in the line of duty, it is also so important that we never forget to care for our surviving veterans.”

Sergeant Bert, who has walked an incredible 107.3km and raised a staggering $86,500, is currently recovering from an injury, however is looking forward to walking around the block again to continue his personal mission to support our modern day veterans.

Whilst the Centenary of ANZAC has raised awareness of the contemporary veteran and the issues they face, we as a community must continue to support our Defence community, particularly once they have separated from service to avoid issues that can arise in the years to come.

Remembrance Day is a powerful and emotive historic day. For many, it is an important occasion to pause, reflect and remember loved ones. For some, it can sometimes bring unexpected memories or feelings. This year we encourage you to reach out to Soldier On for support and stay connected: getsupport@soldieron.org.au

Matched Giving Doubles Donations

MEDIA RELEASE: Every dollar donated by the Australian public will be doubled by Soldier On corporate partners leading up to this year’s Remembrance Day.

Soldier On launched its third annual Stronger Together campaign today in the lead-up to Remembrance Day, 11 November 2020.

The 24-hour unique fundraising initiative in support of Australian contemporary veterans and their families will kick off at 10am today and continue until 10am on Tuesday 10th November when all public donations made to Soldier On will be matched by a host of the charity’s corporate partners.

In the lead up to Remembrance Day, the importance of supporting service personnel is at the forefront of the Australian community’s minds. Soldier On will be holding a 24-hour Australia-wide campaign to raise much-needed funds to strengthen our services around the country and ensure that all defence families across Australia are supported as best as they can be, especially through the COVID-19 pandemic that has impacted so many of our veterans and their families.

Solider On Australia’s CEO, Ivan Slavich, says “It’s no secret that 2020 has been a tough year for all Australians, with the devastating bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic, we have relied on the support of many of our servicemen and women – and in-turn their families – during these times. Now it’s time for the Australian public to show their gratitude. As a community – Australia needs to come together to ensure that our veterans and their families are adequately supported. They need us to show our support and come together so they’re stronger and stay connected.”

‘We need all Australians to give any funds that they can afford to help strengthen the reach of Soldier On’s support programs, for those who face significant and unique post-service struggles including difficulty finding work, post-traumatic stress disorder and feelings of isolation. Soldier On has proven that our programs are comprehensive and relevant to help our veterans and their families build better futures following their service.”

“Thanks to the generosity of our matchers, this campaign presents the ideal opportunity for Australians to show their gratitude to those who have fought in our nation’s defence, because every dollar donated will be doubled during the 24 hour campaign,” adds Mr Slavich.

Australian philanthropist Dr Chau Chak Wing said: “From my visit to Soldier On, I came to understand the problems and challenges faced by our veterans and their families in their daily lives. I am proud to support such an important campaign and I encourage everyone to show more care and support for veterans and their families.”

Soldier On is a leader in supporting those who have served and continue to serve in the Australian Defence Force. With an exemplary track record of providing practical and emotional assistance critical to building successful post-service lives, Soldier On is recognised as an essential first port of call for veterans and their families as they transition from the Defence Force to civilian life.

Synergy Signs on for Golf Vet-AM

Synergy Group Australia is proud to be the major sponsor for the inaugural Soldier On Golf Vet-AM, Australia’s premier veteran golfing event at the Royal Canberra this December. Synergy is an active part of the Canberra community and we give back whenever we can. 

Synergy is one of Canberra’s largest and fastest growing consulting and contracting firms specialising in the provision of services across Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments.  We employ over 320 highly experienced individuals that make up our collective excel in small- and large-scale transformation. We provide an end-to-end, whole-of-life service, from strategic planning to change management, creative, digital technologies, financial management, resourcing, and more.

We have a knack for attracting the best talent because we’re more than a name on a building. Our culture is founded in the thought, we are Potential Personified. We are a playful expression of creativity, passion, energy and curiosity in our approach that inspires the confidence to consistently deliver results. These foundations create a distinctive service model. Clients benefit from our strategic advice, innovative and practical solutions to achieve their organisational goals and the robust partnerships we build to identify and solving Australia’s most complex challenges.

This has certainly been the case for the recruitment of Veterans into new careers in the professional services industry as part of Synergy Group. One Partner’s satisfying experience with a single veteran in 2017 quickly migrated into a successful Veteran Recruitment Campaign and Veteran’s Assessment Centre that has grown the number of veterans within the organisation to over 10% of a growing workforce.

Galia  Cornish,  CEO for Synergy Group is a strong supporter of providing opportunities for veterans, “I had first-hand experience of the capability of Veterans from my work as a consultant across Defence so I welcomed the opportunity for a recruitment campaign tailored to introducing Veterans to a potential career in consultancy.  My respect for the Veteran community and my experience with recruitment agencies in general really drove my thoughts on how Synergy should approach the opportunity; professional, respectful, and focussed on building a bridge between the Veteran – their values and beliefs, and Synergy’s values and our principles-based approach to business.   We achieved great success once we decided to bring the whole campaign in-house; from creative and advertising to screening and processing, the conduct of the assessment day, through to selection and making of offers.  It was very rewarding to be involved throughout, and the level of investment by our management and consultants was first-rate.  I deal with our Veterans daily on a professional basis and greatly enjoy the energy they bring to our business as well as our social and well-being programs.  Their capacity to get on board and get on with each new challenge and opportunity has been admirable and shows the value that Veterans provide to businesses like Synergy Group.”

Rob Kennedy, one of the Principal Partners, similarly acknowledges the contribution made by Veterans, “I was taken aback by how much the Veterans appreciated the opportunity and we’ve been able to incorporate them into our business and get them onto really substantial bits of work quickly as a result.

“They routinely seek, win and deliver great work, solving critical problems across government, doing so with great success.”

If you are a person with a burning desire to be part of a dynamic team and value the opportunity to showcase your ability, then you should be talking to us. Please send your CV to recruitment@synergygroup.net.au. More information about Synergy is available at synergygroup.net.au and at our Synergy Group Australia page on LinkedIn.

Canberra Glassworks teams up with Soldier On to Commemorate Remembrance Day

In the week leading up to this year’s Remembrance Day, Soldier On is joining with Canberra Glassworks to support its Field of Poppies’, campaign with a donation from the purchase of every glass artwork going to the veteran support services organisation.

Field of Poppies’, is a limited-edition series of glass artworks created by Canberra’s award-winning glass artist Kirstie Rea to commemorate Remembrance Day on 11 November 2020, and is available exclusively from Canberra Glassworks.

Kirstie, the winner of the 2019 Klaus Moje Glass Award, was inspired by her childhood memories of watching televised images of families visiting cemeteries full of white marble tombstones, where their fathers and grandfathers bravely fought at Gallipoli and on the Western Front.

Each exclusive ‘Field of Poppies’ artwork is made from layers of glass containing specks of red glass scattered throughout to symbolise both tombstones and poppies. At the base of the handheld piece is a small section which can be hand engraved with a personalised message of remembrance, for example the name of a loved one or an important date.

Ivan Slavich, CEO of Solider On, comments: “We are delighted to team up with the Canberra Glassworks for this campaign.  Remembrance Day is an extremely emotive time for many veterans and their families and this unique artwork can be something special for people to have to remember their loved ones.”

Julie Skate, CEO of Canberra Glassworks, comments: “We are delighted that Solider On is supporting us on this campaign.  The work they do to support veterans and their families is fantastic and we hope that with the donated funds from our Field of Poppies campaign, this will in some way help to support more people going forward.  We hope to work together on many more campaigns to help veterans and their families.”

The Canberra-born artist holds this project very dear to her as the inspiration came from the memories of her Grandfathers’ experience in World War One.

Kirstie Rea commented: “It is really important to keep your memories close to you and with this object you can hold it in the palm of your hand, have a sense of touch and hold it close to your heart. The glass responds to your body heat and its weight enables you to hold it close to you, as with all heartfelt memories.”

The limited-edition ‘Field of Poppies’ artworks have a RRP of $240 and Canberra Glassworks will be making a donation to Soldier On with every one purchased.

To purchase, visit: https://canberraglassworks.com/field-of-poppies