Serving On is now a national volunteering program that aims to provide service personnel with the skills, opportunities and support to continue to serve through purposeful work and impactful projects that help people and communities. Following the success of 2018, what was initially an NSW based pilot program, is now fully-fledged and has expanded to all states.
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 its founding in 2012, Soldier On has received many enquiries from service personnel and their family members who want to volunteer and today, we 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, over 100 volunteer veterans from the Sydney region expressed an interest in joining the program and 78 participated in the different community projects and volunteer events. In the near future, selected veteran volunteers will be trained in the roles of project team leaders and will eventually take on the day-to-day planning and management of the projects.
During the pilot phase in 2017-18, Serving On’s set up, operation and administration was supported by volunteers and pro bono support from Sydney Rotary and Soldier On. Operating and administration costs for projects, as well as staff costs for specialist skills not available from volunteers, was funded through the Sydney Rotary fundraising and one-off donations from friends and supporters.
With Sydney Rotary’s commitment now concluded, Soldier On has partnered with BAE Systems Australia to support the longer-term development and growth of Serving On, with the hope that it can continue to grow and operate in other locations across Australia.
Serving On objectives: