Good News in Veterans Care: March 2020

Dear friends,

We at VCA have all our members and supporters foremost in our thoughts and prayers at this time as we all navigate the uncharted waters of COVID19. All those that have embraced holistically, healthy, lifestyles will certainly weather the health challenges better than most, but we are mindful of the extended economic impact, bad news fatigue, and concern for aged loved ones that some of us are facing.

As I watch my local gym emptying , there’s never been a more important time to commit to our health and well being, and to be in the best position to help others. We in the VCA team remain available to help you and encourage in whatever support is needed. While we have been forced to defer TA13 until its clear to travel, we remain committed to our mission of improving the health and well being of veterans and their families.

Personally, my Sabbatical leave was excellent, and I have slowed down and relaxed. I’m healthy and focused on fine tuning a sustainable work/life balance. As part of my leave, I reflected on my journal entries of the past 7 years of VCA and particularly the 4 years when we’ve been delivering the Timor Awakening program, and am just amazed at what we’ve achieved. The assistance we’ve offered, and the insights we’ve gained are extraordinary.

Here’s a summary of participant comments…

  • Thanks so much for a life changing opportunity and the chance to reset my life.This valuable program far surpasses any conventional treatment in Australia
  • I have witnessed other veterans heal and have renewed my outlook on life.
  • I feel I’ve been able to connect with my spiritual side on a deeper level.
  • This program brings positivity back to veterans and shows what the veteran can do.
  • Veterans are sharing in their own health and well-being improvement together, instead of with civilian clinicians who don’t necessarily understand veteran’s perspectives.
  • The suicidal awareness has been impactful- moved by participants experiences.
  • This has been a much deeper focus on trauma recovery and emotional and mental health than I have ever experienced before. I’ve become more honest about my feelings and more connected to my husband’s and others experiences.
  • Despite the poverty, I’ve seen hope and inspirational stories. This was a cathartic experience.
  • This program is miles above and beyond any current offerings to Ex ADF people.
  • This is a very powerful and beneficial program that can save lives.
  • This program has given me a new outlook on life.
  • This program has given me new tools different to what any doctor has given me.
  • This program has helped me own my own recovery.
  • I have forgiven and now I can move on – massive for my mental health.

The results with our clients are fantastic. We have developed a world-class model, which has resulted in Two Assistant Secretaries of DVA now dialoguing with us, with a view to future collaboration. The most important thing we can do for veterans health is to continue, by example, to rebalance the national veterans paradigm from treatment of sickness to promotion of wellness.

We will keep an on-going TA program, but also be looking at ways to assist other veterans groups to develop similar programs.

2019 was a year of great progress . My President’s report is available here……… TA12 in Feb/Mar20 was an outstanding success, with foundations being laid at Same Veterans University for a kitchen, dining area, and accommodation block. Just prior, volunteer, Rys Broadfoot, achieved delivery of a whole container load of medical supplies which were vitally needed for the university’s medical faculty and clinic, and will help with their dealing with COVID19. Well done Rhys and many other VCA volunteers. We also participated in Timorese Veterans’ Day celebrations where Michael Stone made a landmark speech, inspiring all present to the special relationship we have, and the legacy we veterans are contributing to our two societies. RSL QLD has produced a video of our TA10 / Interfet commemoration (Youtube link here) which is also inspiring.

We are delighted that our primary Timorese collaborator and Deputy Chair of the Timorese Veterans Council, Ms Ines Imelda has now come to Canberra as the Timorese Ambassador.    She is also the best VCA ambassador we could have in Canberra as she has witnessed the blessings our work has had on both Timorese an Australian Veterans.  Alongside the announcement of a Standing Commission into Veterans Suicide, we are well placed to make a positive national contribution this year.  A newspaper article on our response to this Govt initiative is available here

Thank you for your collaborative efforts in getting us where we are today . Amidst the despair of many in society at this time, we can still be messengers of HOPE.

God can bless us with everything we need, and we will always have more than enough to do all kinds of good things for others . (St Paul in 2Cor 9:8)

If you aren’t already please follow us on Facebook ….for more regular updates of Good news.

Kind regards and May God bless you,
your Padre,

Overcoming Timor Suffering

A FORMER soldier who served in East Timor 20 years ago has told how a recent return to that country on a spirituality-inspired rehabilitation program has helped ease decades of suffering from trauma.

“I feel like a weight has been lifted, and I can now look at things in a different way,” Townsville veteran Murray Sutherland said.

“A lot of the anger I’ve had, both for myself and towards others, has been released.”

In 1999, Mr Sutherland was amongst the first Australian troops dispatched to East Timor’s capital Dili, after an independence vote that descended into violence as Indonesian militia went on a rampage.

He returned to East Timor with his wife Susan and 36 other veterans and spouses last month to participate in the 20th anniversary of the arrival of the Australian-led INTERFET mission.

Read the full article here

Good News In Veterans Care October 2019

Dear friends,

Gary at ETDA with his sponsor child.

Words can hardly express the realisation of so much that has come together in the last few months. We completed our 10th , fully evaluated Timor Awakening program, involving a contingent of 38, including 7 couples. We opened  the Veterans’ English Language Institute (VELI)  and Ian Hampel ( accommodation) House at Same. We got to have key engagement meetings with Darren Chester, Minister for Veterans Affairs  in Dili, where he saw and heard of our work from TA Participants, key Timor Leste Government Leaders, key Embassy officials, as well as, fellow MP Luke Gosling.

In an amazing step of solidarity, he invited a representative group of us to have breakfast with him on his final day in Dili, he endorsed our work, and has asked that I send more information to him about the “Promoting Wellness” and Post Traumatic Growth model, we  advocate. This is the strategic breakthrough that we have sought from Day 1.   A recent article in the Catholic Leader (HERE) highlights some of our successes, as do some recent programs on the ABC  HERE and SBS HERE.

Four years ago Michael Stone envisioned delivering 10 TA programs and that has come to fruition, improving the lives of 266 families. At the same time, we engage weekly with up to 30 other veterans or groups seeking advice or guidance. Tears came to my eyes as I saw the massive VELI building opened on a site that 3 months ago was virgin scrub.
We have a retreat site now in the heart of Timor, but more significantly we have a touched the hearts of thousands of people showing that life for veterans and their families can be much improved. Thank you Michael Stone for your vision and commitment.
Some September Timor “Awakenings” from our final “Circle time” included :
  • My husband has now come home to me after 20 years absence.
  • My husband and I have really connected again, after illness that had torn us apart.
  • Seeing the Timorese appreciation and how our presence has improved their lives, has deeply moved me.
  • I’ve finally found my purpose in life.
  • I’ve found more hope in 10 days than in the last 3 years of searching.
  • I will now live in the Light of today rather than the darkness of the last 20 yrs.
  • I’m excited now about the rest of my life.
  • Forgiveness- the Timorese show it – now I can too.
  • My life has been changed for the better in a big way- and I’ve still got lots more to learn.
  • This has made me want to get the potential out of every day.
A full TA10 evaluation report is still being collated, but our TA9 report is now available HERE. 
Many of the TA10 participants will be at  our 2 Nov meeting to share even more. Significantly the meeting  falls during the national Veterans Health Week and DVA have provided funds for a sumptuous healthy lunch!
Our programs for 2020  include TA12, 22Feb – 4 Mar ,  TA13 20 Jun-1 Jul, and TA 14 17-28 Oct, with our first VCA gathering likely to be 8 Feb 20.  Promote these to those of your friends who need this now.
At the AGM, I will formally thank our sponsors and key staff, as well as our generous volunteers. We clearly have a wonderful community of caring people that make this all happen. Thank you all.
Secretary Col Ahern, has separately sent out papers for the AGM.  Being read into it in advance, it can be short. But in order to vote you will need to have renewed your membership. You can do so here.
This will be our last newsletter for 2019 , and so I would wish you Gods blessings this Christmas, and in the words of Jesus,  May you have life, and live it to the fullest (John 10.10 ) 

I’ll let the pictures now tell more of the story
May God bless you
Gary Stone

July Newsletter

Dear friends,

May peace and contentment be with you all. We’ve just completed an incredible Timor Awakening program and are preparing for our next one, Timor Awakening 10 (14 to 25 September), during which we will commemorate the 20th anniversary of INTERFET. During Timor Awakening 10 we will be opening and dedicating ‘Hampel house’ and ‘ANZAC house’ English Language School at our Veterans’ precinct at SAME.

At our VCA Gathering on 10 Aug, we will be reflecting on the goodness that’s coming from all this activity and more detailed briefing on the September programme by Michael Stone who has been instrumental in shaping this International event. We will also be giving support to an RSL commemorative delegation in September.

Our support team gather every Monday at our office at 2 Victoria Park Rd Kelvin Grove. Last Monday, we reflected how rich and diverse our services have become. Strategically, we are pleased that other organisations and practitioners are embracing the concepts of holistic health promotion and post traumatic growth, and we are increasingly being asked to give talks and presentations on what we are achieving and learning. Yesterday I was asked to brief a Gold Coast doctor, who has seen such amazing growth from one of our Timor Awakening participants that he wants to share what we are doing with the entire Gold Coast primary health network of clinicians. Every veteran who shares the growth they are experiencing contributes to our strategic objective of transforming the Veterans Health paradigm from a sickness treatment focus to a health and wellbeing focus.

TA9 in June took our program to a new level with the ‘hands-on” work we did at Same in painting and tiling a teacher accommodation block, landscaping and laying foundations for an English Language Institute, as part of the RIAK Retreat project ( We see this not only as healthy activity but also “paying it forward” for veterans who want to make a difference in the lives of others. No health and wellbeing funding we receive is being used for this work. This project, like our sponsorship of veterans children gaining hospitality qualifications at ETDA in Dili, is to be funded by veterans for veterans.

Please consider donating. Donations are tax deductible and are true acts of compassion and charity.

If you’re looking for an easy way to fundraise for VCA that can raise up to $2000 on weekends and $1000 on weekdays, consider as some VCA members (raising funds for Riak Retreat) have done  by booking a sausage sizzle at Bunnings. If you’d like to do the same at your local bunnings, here is an example letter that you would need to initiate this. You just need to talk to the activities coordinator. It’s a great activity to give witness to our Veterans Care work,  a great local team activity, and sure to help you identify other veterans in your area!
AND… “Giving is good for your health”. (From Michael Stone quoting Mother Teresa)

A few “Awakening” comments from TA 9 participants included:

  • This has been liberation. I had disliked Timor. I now realise my attitudes need to change. TA opens your eyes.
  • The importance of Family; we have become a family.
  • Forgiveness is what I have learned. Now we must live that out into the future.
  • This has been mind-boggling. I’ve met really lovely people in this group. TA has given me somewhere to reflect.
  • I’m inspired – inspired.
  • This is the first time in a long time I’m feeling at peace. Thank you Gary and Michael and the team. You have my friendship for life.
  • The whole trip has been a highlight, especially getting to know the Kiwis. It has been an emotional roller coaster.
  • I can now dream to do something different.
  • My experiences here have moved me from being an atheist to being a believer, and I now want to be received into the Catholic Church.

As we ponder the many positive outcomes, I must continue to acknowledge and thank our two primary sponsors, Bolton Clark and RSL QLD and the many other individual sponsors who give what they can to enable this work to continue. In addition to the hundreds who’ve benefited from Timor Awakening, daily we field many other requests for support, information, resources, comments by others in the veteran community. Ongoing collaboration is improving the lot of many. But it takes time and money to do so.

If you aren’t already involved know that your support is appreciated in whatever form, but financial support is critical. Into a new financial year, we invite friends to renew their memberships and to consider making a regular monthly contribution. We have 10 donors who give from $30 to $120 and this is life blood for us to enable us to pay the underpinning unavoidable costs of insurance, fuel, phone, internet and Health and Wellbeing resources.

The pictures attached will say more than words, But underpinning this all is a message of HOPE, sandwiched between Faith and Love.

We live in hope that our lives can improve and that we can improve the lives of others. We have faith in each other and God’s divine love for us, but we do all this because we are centered in an attitude of LOVE that has forgiveness as a foundation.

May you know our love for you and may you share that love with others.

Upcoming activities

  • Sat 2 Nov  VCA Christmas party 1000-1330  @ Mates4mates Milton
  • Sat 8 Feb   VCA gathering/ Prep day for TA12  1000-1330  @ Mates4mates Milton
  • 22Feb- 4 Mar    TA12
  • 20 Jun – 1 Jul       TA13
  • 17 Oct – 28Oct      TA14
  • 14 Nov 20 VCA Christmas party



May Newsletter

We hope you all had a happy Easter and are positively counting all your blessings.

We are pleased to present the Comprehensive Report on TA8. Click here to download.

Thanks to Michael Stone and Candice Carroll for putting this together. It was a life-changing experience for many and further consolidated our evidence base demonstrating that peer support, reflected experiences, and holistic health education can make significant improvements in the lives of veterans and their families.

Of course, our involvement and positive interaction with the Timorese takes this all to a higher level, where we realise that loving our neighbours and going beyond concerns about ourselves, energises us for new life meaning and purpose.

As you are reading this a recon group of Michael Stone, Rob Schreuder and Bill Fields is in Same,  in central Timor, doing the preliminary work for the Raik Veterans Retreat construction, that will be a feature for the TA9 group deploying on 23 June.

This is an exciting project that will continue over the coming years and provide an extension activity that will benefit both Australian and Timorese veterans and their families.

The visit by Timorese veterans over to ANZAC week was a great commemorative as well as friendship activity.

Representatives from the rural districts of Timor had their first experience of life outside Timor and were fascinated to see the range of veteran activity we have here.

While the visit was funded by the Timorese Govt,  VCA developed the itinerary and hosted the contingent and alongside Dr Ian Marshall, the Hon Consul for Timor and our VCA Medical officer.

The veterans experienced some friendly reciprocal hospitality and went back with many ideas on how they can improve veteran life in Timor.

Thanks to all who supported this visit.  During the same period VCA staff supported Bolton Clarke Residential communities with ANZAC  presentations.

Our September TA10 experience is fully subscribed and will feature an involvement in the 20th anniversary commemoration of INTERFET.  Michael Stone has been working closely with the Timorese Govt to make this international event a truly memorable one.

Our next TA activity, funding permitting will be in Feb/Mar 20, coinciding with Timorese veterans day and the 20th anniversary of UNTAET.

Thanks to all our supporters and volunteers for contributing to this mission of compassion to veterans and families in need.

While we continue to hear of tragedy for some in the wider Veteran community, it is pleasing to know that all who have accessed our services are travelling much better than they were, and are resourced to deal with challenges that may afflict them in the future.

Our healthiest veterans are the ones who have seriously engaged in a future life purpose of helping others. This is the energising spiritual dimension  of VCA, and draws on the mission of Jesus to bring good news, to heal, to uplift and give new sight.   We seek  to bring light into the darkness of our lives, and in due course be the Light that  illuminates others to new life.

Hope to see as many as possible on 8 June.

May God bless you all

Your Padre,

Gary Stone

Visit helps bring light to the darkness

A Catholic veteran has found a renewed joy for life, after returning to a Timorese village where he was caught in a gun battle with enemy militia 19 years ago.

It has taken former Corporal Greg Murty many years to come to grips with the incident, and which has caused him great distress and trauma. He lives with his family in the Brisbane south-side suburb of Parkinson.

“Being a young and proud soldier… I went to their country thinking I was making a difference, but returned to Australia with the feeling of a heavy heart and feeling defeated,” Mr Murty said of his deployment to East Timor soon after the country’s vote for independence, and a violent aftermath.

“I was very naïve… I was unaware of their struggle for independence nor their struggle under the hands of the Japanese in World War Two.”Corporal Murty celebrated his 24th birthday soon after arriving in East Timor in April 2000, as a member of the international peacekeeping force sent to stabilise the country.

He found the fledgling nation in chaos – hundreds of thousands of people had been herded across the border and were being held in refugee camps in West Timor, by violent militias bank-rolled by the departing Indonesian forces. Corporal Murty was a member of a platoon sent to patrol and protect the remote and rugged border region. He recalls working hard to win the trust of the local village people, particularly in Aidabasalala where he was stationed most of the time.

“They (the East Timorese villagers) were stand-offish at first, but once they realised you meant no harm they were very interactive, building shades and shower areas for us out of local materials,” Mr Murty said.

“I took any opportunity to mix with the locals, even going to their school behind our patrol base and interacting with the children, teaching them English, songs, with their teachers permission.”

Several months into his mission, just after mid-night on June 21, Mr Murty was at the end of a watch shift at his village patrol base when his unit was ambushed by armed militiamen.

“Their intent was to kill all Australian soldiers,” he said, recalling an initial grenade explosion, and then the chatter of automatic weapons firing.

“I got on the radio to headquarters immediately and told them we were under attack and needed reinforcements.“ At that stage we were on our own. We thought they (the militia) were inside the wire.

“I really didn’t expect to survive that night.” Mr Murty said the battle “felt like an eternity”even though the battle probably lasted only a few minutes. However, the short encounter left a lasting impression on a young soldier, who suddenly had been betrayed by the villagers he had come to know, and even his own army comrades.

“After that night I had so many thoughts, why didn’t the locals inform us? “ Mr Murty said.“And, why did the militia try to kill us when we are here trying to help the Timorese people? The “icing on the cake”, according to Mr Murty, was that Australian army reinforcements were supposed to arrive in ten minutes, after he had phoned for help.

“They ended up taking 45 minutes to get to us. At that time we would have been dead if we’d been waiting for them,” he said.“I felt unsupported. All alone, as if nobody had our back.“It was only five days before I came home to Australia and I honestly didn’t think I was going to survive those five days.”

On the morning after the militia attack Mr Murty visited a church to pray, accompanied by an army padre. He said the feeling of betrayal lingered. And there were other questions on his mind.“Why weren’t we injured or even killed?” he said. “What’s God’s plan for me?”

At that testing time, Mr Murty phoned his fiancée (now his wife Belinda), confided his fears,and surprisingly, asked her to marry him.“She said yes,” he said.

Back in Australia, Mr Murty said he considered“going AWOL”, refusing to go back to Timor.“ But I thought, I don’t want to look like a coward, so I’ll go back and do my job,” he said.

Back in Aidabasalada, and at his lowest mind-set, Mr Murty said the children “kept me going and gave me hope”.

“I would walk out of the patrol base with another soldier and teach the children English,”he said. Mr Murty admits it had taken many years to come to grips with his deployment in Timor. He and Belinda have three children Ryan, 15, Shaun,13, and Gemma, 8. The breakthrough came in February this year, when he joined a Timor Awakening tour, led by Veterans Care Association, Deacon Gary Stone and his son Mick Stone, both former army officers.

“I was given the opportunity to return to Aidabasalala, after 19 years,” Mr Murty said. The moment I arrived I had extreme anxiety and stress. My emotions were high. “My heart was pounding. I had a very strong feeling of fight or flight.

“I was extremely fortunate to have my wife Belinda by my side and she could sense my emotions and held my hand tight as we walked into a shower of praise and welcome from the locals.”

Mr Murty said his first impression of the village was that it had not changed much – maybe a coat of paint on the school.“The school kids came and sang to us their Timor Leste national anthem and their veterans song. I looked at the children before me and notonly were they all singing beautifully, but they were all wearing a school uniform,” he said.

It dawned on Mr Murty that indeed quite a lot had changed – these children had a nationalanthem, school uniforms, and, most importantly, a certain future.

“I finally get it. I see what we (Australians) have done,” he said. “I have actually helped. I have actually made a difference. I finally feel proud.”

Mr Murty said the feelings of betrayal and mistrust that he had harboured for so many years suddenly disappeared, replaced by forgiveness.

“The Timorese have been through so much themselves. How can I not forgive them?” he said. Mr Murty spent time walking through the village, inspecting shrapnel marks left in some of thewalls from gunfire, and meeting people, including a teacher who still remembered his visits to the school.

He said he was thankful to share his emotional return to Aidabasalala with his wife, Belinda.

“I hope this allows me to be kind to myself and work on what actually matters in life and that is family,” he said.

“I was once in darkness with this event. But now I am coming into the light.” Following the visit to Aidabasalala, the Timor Awakening veterans attended Mass and Holy Communion in nearby Balibo, the border town where five Australian newsmen were captured and killed by Indonesian soldiers in 1975. More than 250 veterans and partners have now received healing through the Timor Awakening rehabilitation program.

“Like Greg and Belinda they all experience our holistic health education and experiences tailored to nurture the body, mind, soul, and relationships and are offered life coaching for a future full of hope,” Deacon Stone said.

This Anzac Day, Mr Murty will march for the first time in Brisbane alongside his Timor Awakening mates and a contingent of Timorese veterans who had hosted his experience earlier this year.

He’ll also attend the ANZAC Day Mass in Brisbane held at St Stephen’s Cathedral, concelebrated by Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge, at 8am.

If you know a veteran needing help, contact Veterans Care Association on

Article written by Mark Bowling for the Catholic Leader. You can read the full article here

April Newsletter

Dear Friends

Here at the VCA office we are following-up a  most successful TA8 program, have completed Selection Boards for TA9 and 10 and undergoing preparations for those programs, and most immediately are preparing to host 9 Timorese veterans who will join us from 21- 28 April.

TA8 was fantastic. The evaluation report showed significant health and well being improvement in all participants.

We had the most amazing celebratory reception in the remote village of Aidabasalala, where in June 2000, veteran Greg Murty’s section was surprised in a massive attack at 0200hrs and Greg,  alone on sentry, miraculously survived.

Greg was traumatized by that and several other incidents, but his visit back there with wife, Belinda, achieved a significant healing for both of them.

Michael Stone got a great surprise there to find his local guide from operations in 1999, Jose Marsal, had give his son a baptismal name of Stone in honour of Michael and had made him his Godparent!

Throughout the trip many learnings were embraced and we celebrated National Veterans Day  in Dili with a Parade, street march,  concert and lunch.  A more detailed report is attached here…..

Katherine Lowe has also given us  reflection ….. (see below)

Preparations are now underway to host 9 Timorese Veterans over Anzac week.

A detailed program is here… but we would particularly welcome VCA members to come to lunch on Tuesday 23 Apr at Mates4mates,  Dawn service at Cenotaph 0428, Mass at St Stephens Cathedral 0800 and march as a contingent with the Timorese at 1000.

A final farewell function will be  BYO lunch in the Roma St parkland at 1220 on Sat 27 April.

Please let us know by return email if you can make any of these functions.

Rob Schreuder is well advanced in leading the development of Riak Retreat at Same. He, Bill Fields and Michael Stone are doing a recon in May and our TA9 Program will spend several days there doing construction work.

TA10 will coincide with the 20th anniversary of INTERFET and a big program in Dili is planned as well as field trips to Same and Bobonaro  District. Michael Stone has been instrumental in guiding the Timorese veterans and government in planning this event.

Day-to-day our team field many requests for support and information.

Big thanks must go to Col, Wayne, Michael S, Michael A , Michael R,  Rowena and Candice, for your regular work, and to Arthur Davis, John Barletta, Chris Hully, Simon Wilson, Ian Marshall and Bob Breen for your periodic inputs.

As usual Anzac Day and Easter are close by. The message is the same from both events.

Darkness can turn to Light, Sadness can be replaced with Joy, Despair can be relieved with Hope.

Two key things can make this happen . Love God and love our neighbours.

We promote healing, health and well being not just for ourselves, but for all who are struggling. Our ultimate hope for all Veterans engaging with us, is that they will become pastoral carers too.

So, may the Light of Christ brighten your Easter!


Next Meetings for your Diary :

  • Sat 8 June 19: Gathering (Pre- TA9) all welcome. (Mates  4 Mates Milton).
  • 23 Jun-3 July 19 :(TA9:  Timor-Leste)
  • Sat 17 Aug 19: Gathering at M4M (all welcome.) TA9 & TA10
  • 13-25 Sept 19: (TA10 Timor- Leste)
  • Sat 2 Nov 19:  AGM and Christmas party at Mates 4 Mates

May God bless you all

Your Padre,

Gary Stone

Reflections of Timor
Martyn Wright & Kath Lowe

Having attended DVA approved courses held in health care facilities previously, I was a little skeptical about Timor Awakening’s ability to assist in my PTS, Depression and Anxiety Management given it was primarily my time in Timor-Leste that I long to forget, because it is the root cause of many of my challenges today.

However, I had watched some of my friends and their partners benefit greatly from the process, so I decided to make further enquiries. I soon found out that my partner, Kath, could also attend, and so I progressed my application thinking, if nothing else, she would gain from the experience and be able to relate to areas and situations in the future if she saw Timor-Leste firsthand.

Kath’s words below will speak to her experience, but from my perspective Timor Awakening has done more in 12 days than many other organisations have done for me over the last 20 years. When I reflect on why, I think one of the main things that sets this program apart from others is that it is carried out in Timor-Leste. It is very rare that a soldier can go back to a land they deployed to and see such a positive change, but that is what this program offers. I was really struck by the love, peace, forgiveness and respect that the Timorese offered us, notwithstanding Australia’s less than spotless history and the oppression the Timorese endured at the hands of the Indonesians for so long. The second thing that sets this program apart is that it is primarily conducted by ex serving personnel, who understood my headspace better than any non-military psychologist or psychiatrist ever has. I will now pass over to Kath for her to take on this journey.

When Martyn asked me to come on this journey with him, I was a little skeptical about the benefit in me being involved, but I can now see the positive impact it has had for him and our relationship. Being able to see the areas he was deployed to and to understand what he and other defence force personnel endured has really opened my eyes up to the torment he has struggled with over the last 20 years.

Having a greater understanding of the destruction, pain and sorrow that the Timorese endured in the lead up to INTERFET and the positive steps that the Timorese have taken over the last 20 years to forgive and to look forward to the light in the future rather than to dwell in the darkness of the past has also really helped us both.

It has helped Martyn by replacing the horrendous images he had in his mind from 1999 with new positive images and it helped me to see that there is a positive way forward if we are prepared to take it.

The other thing I was anxious about when we signed up to the program is the length of time we would be away, but I soon realised that this was a key part of the healing process and a quick trip would not have allowed Martyn or I to really process things and to affect real change in our lives, both individually and as a couple.

The last thing I would say about the program is that Mick, Garry, Rowena, Arthur and Michael A were incredibly supportive and understanding and so too were the other members of the group. As a partner of a veteran I expected to be sitting on the side lines for most of the tour, but that wasn’t the case. All the partners were treated as individuals with their own journeys to traverse over the tour, which really sets this program apart. The comradery that we built up over the 12 days was also incredibly powerful and we have established relationships that I think will last a long time into the future.

Being around other ex-defence force personnel also helped me understand a number of
Martyn’s traits.

The last thing we would both like to say is thank you to Mick, Garry and the other Timor Awakening staff and supporters for allowing us to be part of Timor Awakening 08. This has been an incredible experience for both of us and one we hope will have a positive lasting effect on our lives going forward.



What Participants from TA7 are saying…

1. I am very appreciative of the professional and personal warmth of the leadership team.
2. You showed there’s always Hope. Every now and then God gives us a flower. We received several.
3. Now I know I’m not alone. Take this trip and you find yourself. (more…)

President’s Report to AGM for FY 17/18

This last 12 months has seen the work of VCA develop a deep sense of maturity and stability. We have finely tuned the services provided to veterans and their families. We have developed a robust management framework with strong governance and financial accountability. We have a competent and collaborative staff team. The Timor Awakening Program, developed and delivered by Michael Stone has been our flagship activity . Significant funding support has come from our major sponsor Bolton Clark, as well as RSL Qld and Knights of the Southern Cross, and other donors. Generous volunteers have given the gifts of their time to deliver services as well as provide the governance to enable them. Michael Albrecht’s Life Coaching has been a great innovation – winning funding by DVA. (more…)

Veteran Family Toolkit Series

We are excited to announce that a series of videos created by Altura Learning & Bolton Clarke have been launched and are now available for viewing, through the link below.

Veteran Family Toolkit Video Series

There are 5 episodes:

  • Episode 1: The Veteran Perspective
    What is it like to be a Veteran who has experienced mental health issues?
  • Episode 2: What is Mental Health?
    This video features interviews with experts in the field of Veteran mental health, who provide commentary on the key contributing factors and symptoms Veterans may experience when it comes to mental illness.
  • Episode 3: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
    We treat physical injury, so why not psychological injury?
  • Episode 4: The Family Perspective
    What is it like to be a family member of a Veteran who is experiencing mental health issues?
  • Episode 5: Getting Help & PTSD Treatments
    We seek help to negotiate new things, things we aren’t trained for, things we can’t fix on our own, so why not seek help for PTSD?
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