Soldier On welcomes Raytheon Australia as its newest Platinum Pledge partner for 2021. The Soldier On Pledge partnership provides a pathway for veterans and their families transitioning from the Australian Defence Force into civilian life.

The Pledge allows organisations to thank Australian Defence Force Personnel for their service and recognise the exemplary skills, leadership and training of those who have served Australia.

Organisations that sign the Pledge commit to learning more about the skills and attributes that Defence personnel, veterans, and family members can bring to their organisation.

Raytheon Australia is continuing its partnership with Soldier On, signing the Pledge again in 2021. The company has been a Pledge partner since 2016. Raytheon Australia Managing Director, Michael Ward said they were thrilled to work closely with Solider On to continue their support of the veteran community.

“Raytheon Australia is committed to supporting our veterans and we are pleased to have been able to sign the Soldier On Pledge once again. Through our continued partnership with Soldier On, we are able to give back to the military community and assist veterans in transitioning into new career pathways,” Mr Ward said.

Soldier On CEO, Ivan Slavich said Soldier On is honoured to welcome Raytheon Australia back as its newest Pledge partner in 2021. “The Soldier On Pathways Program works to provide employment opportunities to veterans and their families, enabling them to thrive.

For every organisation that signs the Soldier On Pledge, we are one step closer to enabling more veterans and their families to secure their future,” Mr Slavich said. “Soldier On is incredibly grateful for Raytheon Australia’s ongoing support. Through signing the Pledge, Raytheon Australian acknowledges the diverse skillsets that our veterans acquire during their time with the Australian Defence Force and the value that these skillsets hold,” Mr Slavich added.


Soldier On has celebrated its 9th annual National Gala Ball at the National Arboretum Canberra, where more than $150,000 was raised in support of serving and ex-serving veterans and their families.

Led by media personality, Melissa Doyle, the premier black-tie event attracted more than 400 attendees and VIP guests. The event welcomed the most senior people in Defence, business and the community to raise money for Soldier On’s life-changing services.

This year’s event saw His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley deliver a memorable address to attendees, sharing the complexities of service in light of upcoming ANZAC Day celebrations.

“We should recognise that this generation has changed, evolved and built on the ANZAC legacy in a spectacularly successful way… If you take the words ‘Endurance’, ‘Sacrifice’, ‘Mateship’ and ‘Courage’ – the four words we talk about on ANZAC Day – How do you turn that into a way that you live your life as a country?” His Excellency asked.

“There are three aspects to that; give us a job to do and we do our best to get it done, give us a job to do and we will do it in a way that you will feel proud of us, while we are doing that we will look after our mates, and when we’re finished, we will look after them too. That, to me, is the ANZAC legacy. Soldier On lives that to its core,” His Excellency added.

Soldier On CEO, Ivan Slavich, said he was overwhelmed by the outstanding support that was received on the night. “It is fantastic to see so many influential members of the Defence and business communities coming together in support of our serving and ex-serving veterans and their family members,” Mr Slavich said.

“The funds raised at the National Gala Ball will allow Soldier On to deliver more of its services to our participants. We will be putting on more Psychologists, more counsellors, and offering more social connections services to try and help prevent veteran suicide” Mr Slavich added.

This year’s event is made possible by the support of Synergy Group Australia, the 2021 National Gala Ball Platinum Sponsor.

March On Benefits Mental Health

Soldier On’s March On challenge has returned for 2021. The March On challenge is a virtual walking challenge established to raise funds to help prevent veteran suicide. It pays tribute to the sacrifices made by Allied soldiers in Kokoda, New Guinea during World War II.  The march highlights the importance of assisting and honouring current serving military members and veterans. The March On challenge has raised more than $1 million, with over 6,000 participants having already completed a combined 60,000km[1] in the campaign’s first week alone. The campaign not only provides vital funds for Soldier On, but also provides a myriad of mental health benefits to its participants.  These can include an increased sense of belonging, a sense of social and community engagement, and increased sense of positivity, accomplishment, and overall quality of life.

The benefits that physical exercise can have on mental health and quality of life is well founded, but collective exercise, especially that completed as part of charitable or volunteer work, have their own unique benefits.  Studies have shown that participants in activities such as March On felt an increased sense of belonging, community, and acceptance as well as a sense of achievement and accomplishment greater than in individual exercise.  Additionally, participants in activities such as March On reported a strong sense of both investing in, and benefiting from, belonging to a greater community.  This culminates in not only a sense of physical achievement, but also increased confidence and self-worth [2].  In this sense, engagement in an activity like March On not only benefits our physical and psychological self, but also satisfies our natural need for social and community engagement.

Group exercise, especially group exercise for a charitable purpose, forges hope and optimism among its participants – making insurmountable obstacles seem far less daunting. Individuals working together for a collective purpose, such as addressing veteran suicide, feel an increased sense of purpose and validation through shared values between participants. Psychologists use the term “muscular-bonding” to describe collective physical effort utilised for a united purpose.  It helps remind us we are not alone, and we share a collective struggle[3].

 Essentially, a communal issue such as veteran suicide requires a communal effort.  Through March On, participants have the opportunity to exercise collectively, but also have the chance to engage socially and be a part of a collective effort to assist veterans.  Not only do the increased levels of endorphins released during collective exercise help participants run, march, or trek for longer – the sense of collective purpose towards a good cause, the “muscular-bonding”, further helps elevate an individual beyond their normal means and more capable of tackling an issue as important as veteran suicide. 

[1] https://fundraise.soldieron.org.au/marchon

[2] Morris, P., & Scott, H. (2018). Not just a run in the park: A qualitative exploration of parkrun and mental health. Advances in Mental Health, 17(2), 110-123. doi:10.1080/18387357.2018.1509011

[3] MCGONIGAL, K. (2021). JOY OF MOVEMENT: How exercise helps us find happiness, hope, connection, and courage. S.l.: AVERY PUB GROUP.

Veteran’s Find Support at Sea

Soldier On’s Deep Sea Fishing Activity returned to Port Stephens last week for its 6th year.

The two-day Marlin fishing adventure paid thanks to our serving and ex-serving veterans and worked to strengthen social connections and mental health for veterans and their families.

The event has seen considerable growth and success since its inception. In its first year, the event attracted 11 participants across three vessels. This year’s event saw 70 participants hosted across 25 boats with the help of 40 captains and crew donating their time and resources on the day.

Soldier On CEO, Ivan Slavich, said the annual trip is instrumental in supporting the wellbeing of veterans and their families.

“The annual fishing trip is very much about supporting the health and wellbeing of veterans and their families as well as encouraging them to form and maintain meaningful social connections,” Mr Slavich said.

The Port Stephens community has displayed a remarkable amount of support, with generous donations of time and resources from a number of partners and local businesses.

Calypso Fishing Adventures Captain, Tim Dean, has been instrumental in the continued success of the Deep Sea Fishing activity.

“The event could not have happened the assistance of Tim Dean. He has been a fantastic supporter of Soldier On, organising this event, recruiting vessels and skippers, and bringing everything together on the day to give our participants a fantastic day on the water,” Mr Slavich said.   

“We are able to do what we do because of the sacrifices that our service men and women have made. It is a real privilege for us to be able to take them out on the water and show them what we do,” Calypso Captain, Tim Dean said.

“At its core, fishing is a team sport, and that really resonates with the veteran community. Win, lose or draw, you do it together,” Tim added.

With proven links established between positive social connections and enhanced mental health,

activities like this are a key component of Soldier On’s veteran support services.

Soldier On participant, Eraine McArthur, attended the event after retiring from the Army earlier this year following 30 years of service.

“For me, these activities keep me connected. Through these events, I am able to stay connected with the Defence community and be supported and encouraged by people in the same circumstances as me,” Eraine said.

“Being in Defence, it is like being a part of a family. When you leave Defence, Soldier On helps you stay connected to that family. For me that is really important in my transition,” Eraine added.

Australia’s Million Dollar March


Soldier On’s March On challenge hits $1 Million raised in its first week. The March On challenge calls upon Australians to walk 96 kilometres, the length of Kokoda, during the month of March to raise funds to help prevent veteran suicide.

On the first day of the March On challenge, 1,862 donations were received across the day, bringing in an additional $108,309.28 to the campaign.

Soldier On CEO, Ivan Slavich, said he has been astonished by the overwhelming support that the campaign has received at such an early stage.

“It’s no secret that many of our servicemen and women – and in-turn their families – face significant and unique post-service struggles including difficulty finding work, post-traumatic stress disorder and feelings of isolation. The suicide rate among Australian veterans is simply unacceptable,” Mr Slavich said.

“It has been fantastic to see people all over Australia getting out there and starting their March On challenge together. It is this simple act that not only shows veterans that we stand with them, but also goes a long way in providing them with the services they need to thrive,” Mr Slavich added.

Every dollar raised as part of the March On challenge will go directly to the services that Soldier On provides to our nation’s current and ex-service personnel and their families to help prevent veteran suicide.

Sergeant Bert Le-Merton

March On Patron, 102-year-old retired Sergeant Bert Le-Merton, said the success that Soldier On has seen in this campaign has been extraordinary.

“I thank all those members of the public who have assisted Soldier On by taking part in the challenge and making donations,” Sergeant Bert said.

“The funds raised through March On will allow Soldier On to provide serving and ex-serving veterans and their families with the assistance they need to build better futures following their service,” Sergeant Bert added.