Life Coaching

The team here at Veterans Care Association is excited to announce that we now provide life coaching as part of our ongoing care to veterans. We know how much value the 11-day day Timor Awakening program has been for our participants and want to do everything within our capacity to ensure this momentum is not lost upon return to Australia.

Our life coach Michael Albrecht is a former full time Army member, having served for 11 years, with operational experience in The Solomon Islands, Timor Leste and Afghanistan. His life-coaching journey started in 2014 and he soon began pursuing a new career as a life coach after leaving the Army. He was trained, mentored and certified by the Gold Coast based company, Ultimate Coach.

Coaching is a future focused, results generation pursuit with the principal aim of moving people forwards, transporting them from where they are to where they want to be. This can be in the area of health and fitness, career, finances, relationships, time management, life mission, creativity / self-expression or whatever goals a client may have.

Michael’s vision as your coach is to be somebody in your corner, who sees aspects of your life better than you currently see them and can enable you to see the road to get you there as soon as possible.

November News

Please join us for our AGM and Christmas party on Sat 18 Nov at Mates4mates Milton at 11:00.

Dear friends,
We conclude 2017 fully satisfied that we are making a positive impact in improving the lives of veterans and their families. Every veteran completing our program is a prophet of Hope and a Compassionate Carer reaching out to those around them.

Our October Timor immersion was our best one yet in terms of health outcomes for veterans and families. We were joined by nominees from the Commando Associations in Qld Vic, NSW and WA and visited all sites of Commando activity in Timor. Once again we interacted with many Timorese veterans and were welcomed to country by new Prime Minister, Mari Alkitiri and were able to lobby him for support to the Timorese veterans. We were delighted to be displaying our major sponsor – Bolton Clark (formerly RSL Care) branding. (more…)

Veterans and Rotary Activity in Timor

A group of 23 Australian veterans conducted an 11 day Veteran Health programme from 14 to 25 October 2017 distributing 2,500 Kits4Kids in remote rural areas of Timor Leste.  The programme also involved a range of physical activities involving daily walks, some cycling, stretching and discussions on a range of physical activity options suitable for veterans.  It also included inputs on nutrition, nurture of the mind, the soul and relationships, as well as developing a future life purpose.

A continuing aspect of the Timor Awakening programme involves the distribution of Kits4Kits packs to rural schools.  These small education kits consist of an exercise book, a pencil, rubber, ruler and a Ziploc plastic bag to carry them in and are purchased in Dili by Rotary with funds raised in Australia.  Of course the children and teachers are delighted to receive these resources, but the engagement with school children has a therapeutic effect on our participating veterans as well.  Programme Director Michael Stone says “There is as much joy and smiles on the faces of our veterans as there is on the children.” (more…)

President’s Report FY: 2016/2017

This last 12 months has seen the most significant increase in the range and number of services provided to veterans and their families by VCA, and a 10 fold increase in our financial receipts and expenditure . This has occurred largely as a result of the services provided in the Timor Awakening Programme, developed and delivered by Michael Stone.  Significant funding support has come from our major sponsor RSL Care- now known as Bolton Clark , as well as RSL Qld and Knights of the Southern Cross, and a range of other donors.  Generous volunteers have given the gifts of their time to deliver these services , as well as provide the governance to enable them . While the balance sheet reflects a trading deficit over the period, we delivered services from funds donated in the previous trading year and concluded the year with a $129,412 cash surplus. (more…)

Retired Navy medic who suffered depression for 15 years turns life around through Timor Awakening

FOR 15 years former Navy medic Kerri Howie struggled with major clinical depression.

Now the 48–year-old Kedron veteran has found a life-changing mission – thanks to the Veterans’ Care Association, headed by Catholic Deacon Gary Stone.

A year ago Ms Howie travelled to Timor Leste as a member of Timor Awakening, a unique VCA rehabilitation program designed for veterans and with spirituality at its core.

“My life changed and after all those years feeling isolated and alone I came out of the dark – I felt part of a community,” she said.

Since her 11-day Timor visit, and with ongoing treatment, Ms Howie has been brimming with new-found energy and purpose. (more…)

Strengthening Timor ties

CLOSE ties between Church and people are a legacy of last month’s Anzac Day visit to Brisbane by Timor Leste’s new leader accompanied by war veterans.

It was the first visit to Australia by President  elects Francisco Guterres, a 24-year veteran of East Timor’s resistance to Indonesian occupation.

Mr Guterres is keen to forge neighbourly ties, and is particularly concerned with improving the welfare of veterans in the fledgling Timor Leste.

In Brisbane, the Catholic Church is playing a prominent part in both creating goodwill and assisting veterans re-integrate into civilian life. (more…)

Mau Buti joins Anzac Day commemoration

TIMOR Leste’s independence struggle veteran Mau Buti spent 24 years as a guerrilla fighter living in the mountains.

Last week Mr Buti mingled with Australian students and veterans as he and 30 Timorese veterans accompanied his country’s President-elect Francisco Guterres on a visit to Queensland to strengthen veteran ties and take part in Anzac Day commemorations.

In Brisbane’s Anzac Square last Monday, he met Australian students who marvelled at him and several of his veteran companions, when they were told of the struggle Timorese guerrillas endured in a long and dangerous occupation by Indonesia. (more…)

Timorese president will lead veterans’ delegation

New Timorese president will lead veterans’ delegation at Anzac Day services in Brisbane

THE newly-elected president of Timor Leste, former guerilla fighter Francisco Guterres, will lead a 30-person delegation of veterans to Brisbane this Anzac Day.

President Guterres, a Catholic, was a commander during a two decades-long armed struggle against Indonesia, which invaded Timor Leste in 1974.

The visit by Timorese war veterans to participate in Anzac activities honours the commitment of Australian troops supporting the people of Timor Leste – both in the Second World War and since 1999 when Australian troops have helped restore civil order after a fractious vote for independence. (more…)

Psychologist praises TA

Leading clinical psychologist praises veteran program ‘Timor Awakening’

A LEADING clinical psychologist has praised the “quality healing” of the rehabilitation program Timor Awakening, which is helping veterans deal with PTSD, substance abuse, isolation and thoughts of committing suicide.

Brisbane-based Dr John Barletta, who volunteered as a consultant on the Timor Awakening program, said “it has been inspiring to see veterans and leaders connect, support, guide, challenge, and educate one another” and “regain a sense of worth in their lives”.

The one-year program, led by Deacon Gary Stone and the Veterans Care Association with support from RSL Queensland, includes an innovative immersion experience for veterans in Timor Leste, a country where many younger veterans have served.

Greater support for veterans has been identified as a national priority to deal with PTSD, depression, anxiety, and alcohol and substance abuse, as well as a staggering suicide rate amongst the veteran community.

Dr Barletta recently accompanied veterans to Timor Leste, providing his own specialist guidance and positive psychology strategies.

“The veterans, though wounded in certain ways, have been quite willing and able to use their relative strengths to be future-focused, and work on integrating their learnings from Timor Awakening to change their lives toward greater health and wellbeing,” he said.

Dr Barletta said veterans visiting Timor Leste (for most, many years after they served there) were able to see that their efforts “amidst the pain and destruction and suffering” had resulted in change and created hope in people’s lives.

“Even on the very first day in Dili, our veterans were able to say ‘what I did was worth something’,” he said.

“For a lot of the veterans the most powerful thing was seeing children, bathed and well clothed and learning in schools. This is the next generation in Timor, and it really touched our guys to see their contribution as servicemen had helped create this.

“It is part of our existential life to be in the service of others. It’s an achievement – part of living a full life.”

Deacon Gary Stone

Joyous: Deacon Gary Stone handing out school supplies in Timor Leste

Dr Barletta said for many veterans, medically discharged after their national service, each day was a challenge.

“How do we get them engaged?” he said, noting that it was often a cultural struggle for veterans to blend back into Australian life.

In his talks to veterans, Dr Barletta said he explained it was their responsibility to build in positive experiences each day including an exercise regime, attending to their psychological and relationship wellbeing, developing hobbies and voluntary work.

“And I would say ‘this stuff is not going to happen by miracle. You can cross your fingers, you can pray’. Hope is wonderful, but at the end of the day hope is not a strategy. There needs to be a plan,” he said.

“What you need to put in the cross-hairs are routine patterns and habits – because when you do the life-giving stuff, that becomes the new normal. And that fills the neural pathways to your brain – through the routines, repetition and deliberate practice.”

Dr Barletta said part of the challenge of suicide prevention is harnessing the “grit, determination and ‘stickability’ which military personnel develop through their service and having those dimensions come to the fore in their civil life.”

Dr Barletta said he would continue to work with the Veteran Care Association team, which consisted of two psychologists, a nurse, as well as Deacon Stone and his son Michael Stone, a former army major.

“Let me reiterate … I believe that the program has sound psychological underpinnings, and with further work will be even more proficient at catering to the complex needs of veterans,” Dr Barletta said.

March News

Our next VCA gathering day is on Sat 1 April at Mates4Mates Milton at 1000

One of our recent Timor Awakening participants has said :  “This has been the best experience of my life.” Another reported: “ This has provided me more help than all of the clinicians I have seen over many years.”

With feedback such as this we are encouraged that the model we are developing in Veterans Health is not just helping the individuals we are directly engaging with , but also will change the broader approach offered  to all veterans. We are about promoting a wellness model of living, rather than enduring a sickness model of treatment. We are seeking to provide hope and restore people who have been labelled “totally and permanently incapacitated” to a level of health and wellbeing that is joyful and  generative, empowering them to see a future life purpose.

We especially thank Pat Mc Intosh and RSL Care for the substantial financial support they have given this year to enable us to continue to deliver our programmes and engage professional clinical staff to supplement our volunteers. They are now our major sponsor and we proudly sing their praises for many initiatives in supporting veterans and families around Australia and for trusting us. RSL Qld and Knights of the Southern Cross remain as sponsors and we are grateful for their ongoing support.

We thank Michael Stone and his team for delivering Timor Awakening 3, which built on learnings from our two previous programmes, and will see further adjustments with TA4 spending 3 fulldays on Atauro Island focussing on health education, more sharing and more physical exercise options.  The Prime Minister of Timor Leste, Dr Rui Arujo  is going to join us for this time, so supportive is the Timorese Govt of what we are doing ! Look up our many pictures on Facebook page Timor Awakening.

Back at base, at 2 Victoria Park Road Kelvin Grove , we have joyfully welcomed  psychologists Kaye Adams and Phoebe Cooper  to our Pastoral Team, coordinated by Kirsten Wells. We now have first class response capacity, record keeping, and programme evaluation in place. CPA accountant Wayne Robson is supporting Geoff Fry and Col Ahern in our governance team and we are in process of managing all our finances onto the XERO system, giving instant visibility and accountability of all we do.

Our next VCA gathering day is on Sat 1 April at Mates4Mates facility in Douglas St Milton starting at 1000, and including lunch at 1200. We will be providing an overview of VCA developments, hearing feedback from TA3 participants, briefing TA4 participants departing on 30 Apr, awarding Quilts of Valour, and making welcome participants hoping to deploy on TA5 in July.

We continue to be inspired to engage in this ministry as it is truly a Good Samaritan activity, in the words of Jesus, “bringing Good News to the afflicted, proclaiming liberty to captives, bringing new sight to the blind, and setting the downtrodden free.”

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My God bless you all and may you celebrate the new life that Easter proclaims.

Your Padre
Gary Stone

Veterans Care Association Inc
Holistic Care for of Body Mind & Soul for Veterans, Families & Carers

The Balibo Fort

The Veterans Care TA3 Team

TA3 Participants at Liquica

Gary handing out a couple of more than 3000 School Kits

The Welcome we received at the Aussie Commando Base at Bazartete

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