We were hoping the Christmas/New year period would be quiet but it has involved a wide range of engagement and significant pastoral care interventions. We have had numerous requests for assistance as well as the emergence of new and exciting possibilities.
Our Raison d’etre is providing spiritually-based pastoral care as well as education in holistic health, but we have also seen a number of families seeking assistance in crisis. We have been helping families and abused and abandoned by abberant veterans, including assistance in court actions. One family member responded, “I didn’t know how I could get through the court proceeding but knowing that you and Caitlin were there has given me hope.”
A great leap forward for VCA has been formally employing Caitlin Proctor as our Pastoral Care Coordinator for approximately 10 hours per week, to deal initially with our most complex cases. Caitlin has had 10 years service in Army. She is qualified as a provisional psychologist, has a graduate certificate in Gestalt therapy, is an Enneagram teacher and a sexual assault counsellor. She has also been a Lifeline counsellor. But most of all she has a pastoral heart and loving disposition to make people feel comforted.
We are also grateful to Christy Welldon (my daughter) HR manager for Brisbane Centacare, for facilitating all the professional employment and pay arrangements for Caitlin and any other future staff. We are adopting Centacare policies for paid and voluntary staff to ensure fair and just working conditions, in ministry that can be quite demanding and stressful.
In December we participated in the Queensland Forum of Ex service organisations where RSL Qld President Stewart Cameron offered to host a website detailing the diverse range of organisations and services available to support Veterans and their families. We will link this information in our website as soon as it is available.
Veterans Care is the only ex service organisation in Australia that is proactively promoting holistic health, let alone spiritually-based pastoral care.
A most exciting development has been an approach by RSL Qld for VCA to contribute to Veteran rehabilitation treks in Timor.
Veteran Glenn Azar, who runs Adventure Professionals, will oversee the administration of the treks and he wants us to provide the rehab content, taking Vets and their family members on a 4WD and walking tour of the island and concurrently a journey of the soul, reflecting how the Timorese have recovered from disaster and how they may too.
Michael Stone has lead on this project, and others will be needed to assist , before during and after the trek. I know this can be an extraordinary healing opportunity and can provide a mountaintop experience for struggling Vets and families.
The first tour is planned for 21-31 July 2016 with others following at 3 month intervals. Look up www.adventureprofessionals.com.au for more detail .
Anther exciting development has been an invitation by the Australian Enneagramm Community to participate in their Wellness programmes at their Retreat Centre at Natural Bridge.
Dr Davis Burke and Dr Margaret Buring have set up an amazing facility, and they have invited us to provide a spiritual input to their (monthly) weekend programmes which currently offer meditation, yoga, health checks, massages and forest walks. Lynne Stone , Caitlin Proctor, Paul Randall and I are booked in for 20-21 Feb16.
Should we see scope/capacity in the future, we could use the facility for specific veteran/family programmes .
Gary has continued to provide holistic health presentations to Soldier Recovery Centre (2×20), Army Junior leaders courses (3 x 60), Nerang Catholic parish (200), and the DVA Health Peer Education course. Indeed Gary has now been certified as a DVA health education provider, forging an important link with this key organisation .
During the period, we received some a $5000 Grant from the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane for ministry support. In presenting the cheque at a function at ACU Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge mentioned that what we were doing was one of the best examples he had seen of people responding to the Pope Francis call for merciful outreach to people in need in this Year Of Mercy .
Indeed Pope Francis recently declared in Rome that: “War disfigures people , leaving “an indelible mark” in soldiers and anyone who witnesses the atrocities of conflict. Members of the military and their families require specific pastoral care, a solicitude that will make them feel the maternal closeness of the church.” We in VCA are responding to that need and we have the support of the Pope in this !
There have been some great developments of our website, www.veteranscare.com.au by Sandra Hammond and Rob Vicary. Please check it out. It is a work in progress as we develop more resources.
Thanks too, to Geoff Fry our treasurer for his great work on our finances. He has also submitted a grant request on our behalf to get a dedicated VCA vehicle from the Gaming Trust.
Our next meetings will be at Kookaburra Café Paddington 7.30pm on Sunday 15 May, 14 Aug, and AGM on 20 Nov 16. (Come for dinner and fellowship from 6pm)