Serving our country, serving our community
Serving On is a New South Wales pilot program that aims to provide service personnel the skills, opportunities and support to continue to serve through purposeful work and impactful projects that help people and communities.
There are approximately 5,000 contemporary veterans in NSW in receipt of DVA benefits. The total number of contemporary veterans and other service personnel in the state however, is much higher. Despite significant improvements in the range of support services available, many contemporary servicemen and women still struggle to find meaningful work, social connection and purpose after their service. As a result, service personnel can become socially isolated and unable to find ways to connect with, and contribute to, the community. This can lead to, or exacerbate, other issues including mental health conditions.
Since founding in 2012, Soldier On has received many enquiries from service personnel and their family members who want to volunteer and today, continue to receive these enquiries on a regular basis.
Serving On was developed to meet this need and provide volunteer opportunities for service personnel to continue to serve. The program is informed by a very successful organisation launched in the USA, The Mission Continues, which has supported and provided opportunities for thousands of veterans across North America since it was founded 10 years ago.
In 2018, up to 100 volunteer veterans from the Sydney region will be recruited and trained to partake in different community projects and volunteer events. Selected veteran volunteers will be trained to the roles of project team leaders and will eventually take on the day-to-day planning and management of the projects.
How to Support
During the pilot phase in 2017-18, Serving On’s set up, operation and administration will be supported by volunteers and pro bono support from Rotary members and Soldier On. Operating and administration costs for projects, as well as staff costs for specialist skills not available from volunteers, will be funded through the Rotary Club of Sydney fundraising and one-off donations from friends and supporters. Serving On will be the Rotary Club of Sydney’s Major President’s Project for the Year.
Soldier On will also be seeking a small number of corporate partners to support the longer-term development and growth of Serving On, with the hope that it can grow and operate in other locations across Australia.
Objectives of Serving On are:
- Support social connection of contemporary service personnel who may otherwise face exclusion and loss of social networks;
- Offer the opportunity to continue to contribute to society and community through purposeful volunteer work and value adding projects;
- Assist with reintegration and employment opportunities by providing skills and experience while working alongside professionals and community leaders;
- Promote the public image of contemporary service personnel as valuable and contributing members of their communities.
PROJECTS – 2018
June: Macquarie Community College
The Macquarie Community College provides important training for newly arrived migrants and disadvantage locals with English and literacy training, job seekers and underemployed people who face barriers to learning or workforce participation are assisted with getting into the workforce, students with a declared disability – including intellectual and learning disabilities, physical and mental health issues are helped in their pursuit of qualification(s), and last but not least, people over 50 are helped to re-skill themselves or learn a new pastime.
There are a variety of tasks that the Serving On team will complete around the school that the Community College has struggled to do without funding. The main activity will be to mend and paint the front fence to keep the school secure.
July: Working with Sydney Homeless Connect
Sydney Homeless Connect is a not-for-profit charity that has been providing support services for homeless individuals for nine years. Once a year, over 70 service providers including Centrelink, social welfare and legal aid donate their time on the day to give services free of charge to Sydney’s homeless. The Serving On team will be helping to provide food for over 4000 homeless people in attendance on the day.
July: Army Engineering Museum
The new museum in the Holsworthy Army Barracks has local veteran volunteers doing a myriad of projects. The Serving On team will be rebuilding a WW2 Bailey Bridge to put on display in the museum at a later date.
August: The Salvation Army
The Salvos in Australia are well known for their fantastic work in caring for disadvantaged people and building healthy communities. The Serving On team will be turning the tables and giving them a hand instead, helping them set up their new facility in Rouse Hill Sydney where people can connect and access much needed services.
September: Vietnam Veterans Peacekeepers & Peacemakers Association
The Vietnam Veterans Peacekeepers & Peacemakers Association advocate for veterans on issues of pensions and entitlements. The Serving On team will be helping to renovate their old headquarters building in Granville by helping to prepare to install a new kitchen, bathroom and improving the front veranda.
October – Invictus Games
To help celebrate the Invictus games, the Serving On team will be doing a project on Manly beach supporting the Family and Friends BBQ day. More details to come.