Good News in Veterans Care October2021

Despite the uncertainty COVID has brought to our wider community, the last few months have been a very significant period in the life and development of the Veterans Care mission. We have continued fulfilment of our vision to transform the Veterans paradigm nationally to a peer led, wellness focus, at the same time as helping many veterans and their families locally and in Timor-Leste. To get a full brief, please join us for our XMAS party and AGM at the Mates4Mates facilities, Douglas St Milton from 1000-1330 Sat 6 November. In this issue we cover:
  • TA16, conducted on the Gold Coast, 20-29 August 2021.
  • Engagement with Open Arms.
  • Timor-Leste humanitarian assistance.
  • Prep for TA17 12-20 Mar 22.
  • VETS (formerly Riak Retreat) schooling project in Timor-Leste.
  • Royal Commission into Veteran Suicide.
  • 2022 dates of importance.
  • Thanks for your support

TA16 – Rainbow Bay 20-29 August 2021

Under the shadow of a potential lockdown, and with 7 participants unable to get into Queensland due to border restrictions, we forged ahead with a group of 22 veterans. The feedback from participants of TA16 was positive and appreciative for the opportunity to experience profound growth and healing, as highlighted in participant reflections. Through professional mentoring and guidance, together with the extensive peer to peer therapy, Timor Awakening 16 offered an experience uniquely different to other programs available for veterans. The multitude of activities created a bonded group that will remain connected through each other’s journey of healing and growth. The overarching theme of hope and purpose was a feature throughout dozens of activities. Even with the realities of a troubled and traumatic past, videos showing the Timorese approach to Forgiveness convinced veterans that there is hope, and with purpose and support, a positive future is possible. Highlights included inspirational presentations on healing moral injury by Maj (Ret) John White DSC and Dr Nilkki Jamieson. A comprehensive report, along with other TA reports, will be available here shortly.
  • “This program has been nothing short of transformational. It is not a silver bullet, or magic pill (though if you could bottle it, you would make a fortune); rather it is a set of tools with which you must do the work.”
  • “I was very surprised by this program. I don’t know what I was expecting but I could not have anticipated the depth, breadth and gravity of the lessons learned. I hope to come back one day as a mentor and pay this experience forward. Thank You.”
  • “Thank you so much for the work you do and the effort you have made to support this community, well done.”
  • “VCA please keep running a great program Domestic or International.”
  • “Awesome program to diverse and different from other available programs really felt part of the tribe.”
  • “You have been a very practical yet conceptual program.”
  • “I was very surprised by this course. I don’t know what I was expecting but I could not have anticipated the depth, breadth and gravity of the lessons learned. I hope to come back one day as a mentor and pay this experience forward. Thank You”
  • “I am immensely grateful to be accepted to attend this course and for Rowena who could tell that I needed to attend when I felt undeserving to attend, I am thankful to Michael and Gary for their grace and leadership. I will be back.”
  • “TA16 was an incredible program that demonstrated care for veterans, inspiration, hope and practical pathways during a very tough period with the challenges of COVID, isolation, lockdowns, and the collapse of costly war in Afghanistan. The compassion, love, tolerance, inspiration, camaraderie, and courage of the team and all who participated was a revitalising breath of fresh air.”
  • “Thank you for this incredible time to help heal. Many other veterans have not been as forgiving to immerse in personal and spiritual growth like I have. This is what heals so thank you for seeing the importance and helping veterans feel values again.”

Humanitarian Assistance to Timor-Leste

Veterans Care Association is actively involved in providing support to the veterans and people of Timor-Leste, who were devastated by a flood and landslide catastrophe. Despite the uncertainty COVID has brought to our wider community, the last few months have been a very significant period in the life and development of the Veterans Care mission. We have continued fulfilment of our vision to transform the Veterans paradigm nationally to a peer led, wellness focus, at the same time as helping many veterans and their families locally and in Timor-Leste. To get a full brief, please join us for our XMAS party and AGM at the Mates4Mates facilities, Douglas St Milton from 1000-1330 Sat 6 November. In this issue we cover:
  • TA16, conducted on the Gold Coast, 20-29 August 2021.
  • Engagement with Open Arms.
  • Timor-Leste humanitarian assistance.
  • Prep for TA17 12-20 Mar 22.
  • VETS (formerly Riak Retreat) schooling project in Timor-Leste.
  • Royal Commission into Veteran Suicide.
  • 2022 dates of importance.
  • Thanks for your support

TA16 – Rainbow Bay 20-29 August 2021

Under the shadow of a potential lockdown, and with 7 participants unable to get into Queensland due to border restrictions, we forged ahead with a group of 22 veterans. The feedback from participants of TA16 was positive and appreciative for the opportunity to experience profound growth and healing, as highlighted in participant reflections. Through professional mentoring and guidance, together with the extensive peer to peer therapy, Timor Awakening 16 offered an experience uniquely different to other programs available for veterans. The multitude of activities created a bonded group that will remain connected through each other’s journey of healing and growth. The overarching theme of hope and purpose was a feature throughout dozens of activities. Even with the realities of a troubled and traumatic past, videos showing the Timorese approach to Forgiveness convinced veterans that there is hope, and with purpose and support, a positive future is possible. Highlights included inspirational presentations on healing moral injury by Maj (Ret) John White DSC and Dr Nilkki Jamieson. A comprehensive report, along with other TA reports, will be available here shortly.
  • “This program has been nothing short of transformational. It is not a silver bullet, or magic pill (though if you could bottle it, you would make a fortune); rather it is a set of tools with which you must do the work.”
  • “I was very surprised by this program. I don’t know what I was expecting but I could not have anticipated the depth, breadth and gravity of the lessons learned. I hope to come back one day as a mentor and pay this experience forward. Thank You.”
  • “Thank you so much for the work you do and the effort you have made to support this community, well done.”
  • “VCA please keep running a great program Domestic or International.”
  • “Awesome program to diverse and different from other available programs really felt part of the tribe.”
  • “You have been a very practical yet conceptual program.”
  • “I was very surprised by this course. I don’t know what I was expecting but I could not have anticipated the depth, breadth and gravity of the lessons learned. I hope to come back one day as a mentor and pay this experience forward. Thank You”
  • “I am immensely grateful to be accepted to attend this course and for Rowena who could tell that I needed to attend when I felt undeserving to attend, I am thankful to Michael and Gary for their grace and leadership. I will be back.”
  • “TA16 was an incredible program that demonstrated care for veterans, inspiration, hope and practical pathways during a very tough period with the challenges of COVID, isolation, lockdowns, and the collapse of costly war in Afghanistan. The compassion, love, tolerance, inspiration, camaraderie, and courage of the team and all who participated was a revitalising breath of fresh air.”
  • “Thank you for this incredible time to help heal. Many other veterans have not been as forgiving to immerse in personal and spiritual growth like I have. This is what heals so thank you for seeing the importance and helping veterans feel values again.”

Humanitarian Assistance to Timor-Leste

Veterans Care Association is actively involved in providing support to the veterans and people of Timor-Leste, who were devastated by a flood and landslide catastrophe. We have closed the gofundme page, though remain committed to providing financial support to communities in need in partnership with our friends in the Timor Veterans Council. On 16 August 2021, largely thanks to monies raised by Energy Club WA (AU$23,425.06), Veterans Care Association was able to send an additional relief tranche totalling $28,532.92 (US$20,100.00). The Timorese National Veterans Council has been active in wide consultation and distribution to the neediest, as per the meticulous update report here. Direct donations to support the Timorese in this time of need can be made to VCA Timor-Leste Aid Account, BSB: 034-034 Account number: 376810

Engagement with Open Arms and Others

In the last two months we have participated in numerous forums with DVA, RSL QLD, Open Arms, Defence and other ESOs on positive initiatives to address veteran’s health. This strategic dialogue will continue, and our views on the need for peer support mentoring and holistic health education are being highly regarded. We can proudly say we are influencing a national agenda with our work. We are yet to hear of any outcome of our DVA tender bid. Open Arms Regional Manager, Veteran Pip Weiland visited TA16 and told us she was very impressed with the both the scope of matters we covered and the contribution of our Peer Mentors. We are to host a dialogue with the Open Arms peer team on Mon 19 Oct at our Kelvin Grove office.

Preparation for TA17 12-20 March 2022

We look forward to delivering TA17 in March 2022, at St Georges, Rainbow Bay and will be on standby for return to Timor from mid 2022, pending travel and quarantine freedoms. TA17 is likely to be oversubscribed, though we will have an active waiting list of reserves. The Expression of Interest (EOI) will be available Nov 2022 here.

VETS (formerly Riak Retreat) schooling project in Timor-Leste

The Veterans Education Training Scheme (VETS), based in Same, is our crowning achievement in terms of showing compassion and concern for our neighbours. From a remote hope and vision two years ago, and despite COVID, the English Language Institute is now in full swing with a comprehensive student body, both boarding and day students. A progress report is attached here. We are grateful for many donors, particularly honour substantial donations recently made by Duncan and Penni Buchanan, Dianne Hanna, Helen Kenneally, Peter Chivers and Jim Johnson. The next phase of the project is underway building a trade and skills wing following our transfer of US$22,000 for building materials. A wide range of tools have been donated by Makita thanks to Diane Hanna’s intervention. We look forward to visiting staff and students when COVID permits. Please donate through this link and get an immediate tax-deductible receipt.

Royal Commission into Veteran Suicide

VCAI has been issued a summons by the RC to give evidence in front of the commission on our initiatives to prevent veteran suicide. This has come from the recommendation of others including the Archbishop of Brisbane and the former National Commissioner on Preventing veteran suicide. This is great news for us and acknowledges our success in this area.

2022 Dates of Importance

Dates and events are subject to change.
  • Mon, 31 Jan 2022: VCA Office restarts.
  • Mon, 14 Feb 2022: VCA Management Committee Meeting (MCM) 08:30am.
  • Feb-Mar 2022: VCA/TA delegation travel to Timor-Leste for 80th anniversary of the WW2 Japanese invasion of Timor-Leste (TBC).
  • Sat 12 to Sun 20 Mar 2022: TA17 – St. Georges Gold Coast.
  • Mon 11 April 22: VCA MCM, 08:30am.
  • Mon 25 April 22: ANZAC day. VCA delegation to Timor-Leste.
  • Thu 26 to Tue 31 May 2022: Team/Mentor Training TA (TA18) – St. Georges, Gold Coast).
  • Mon, 13 June 22: MCM – 08:30/
  • Sat 16, to Sun, 24 July 22: TA19 – Timor-Leste or St Georges, Gold Coast.
  • Mon 15 Aug 22: MCM – 08:30.
  • Sat 22nd to Sun 30 Oct 2022: TA 20 – Timor-Leste or St Georges, Gold Coast.
  • Sat 12 Nov 2022: VCA AGM.

Thanks for your support

We have had significant donations come in from Bolton Clark, RSL QLD, Yeronga-Dutton Park RSL sub-branch, City of Gold Coast and Federal Government. They are gratefully acknowledged. We have six generous individuals who make a monthly donation. We honour you and invite others to join them. Giving is good for our health. We must also acknowledge other occasional donors and thank our team of approx 20 volunteers who are the body, mind and soul of VCA. Your names are already recorded in God’s book of life, in our history, and in the hearts of our Timorese friends and partners.

Conclusion

Despite COVID we will continue to offer individual health and well-being support in between our major activities, and we will continue strategic dialogue on health and well being and development of our peer mentor training program. Please join us on Saturday 6th November for our Christmas Party, AGM and Veterans Health Week activity at Mates4Mates, Douglas Street, Milton 1000-1400. God bless you all in this mission of veteran care, because we are the veterans who care. Your Padre, Gary.

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