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 support@veteranscare.com.au


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?

Date Claimer: AGM & Christmas Party

Saturday 17 November 2018 10am-1pm
Mates4Mates, Douglas Street, Milton

We will conduct our Annual General Meeting on Saturday 17 November 2018, to be followed by our Christmas Party. This will be a great opportunity to re-connect with other veterans, supporters and VCAI staff. An update on TA7, which was conducted in September; and preliminary briefings on TA8 planned for February 2019 will be included.

Photos and Videos will be shown of Timor Awakening and other VCAI activities. Also, we will show some of the latest professional videos commissioned by Bolton Clarke which stars some of our members.

Morning tea and a light lunch will be provided. Please bring along your partner and veteran friends.

Notice of Special General Meeting

Where: VCAI Office, 2 Victoria Park Rd, Kelvin Grove
When: Monday 15th October 2018
Start Time: 9.00am

Special General Meeting will be held on Monday 15 October 2018 at 9.00am at VCAI Office2 Victoria Park Rd Kelvin Grove to vote on a special resolution to an ‘Update of VCAI Rules’ (see comments on rules below).

The proposed ‘Update of VCAI Rules’ is available on the website.

• To download the existing rules, please click here.

• To download the proposed new rules, please click here.

Tea and coffee will be available from 8.30am. The meeting starting sharply at 9.00am should take less than 15 minutes.

The only Special General Meeting Agenda item is to vote on the special resolution to accept the proposed ‘Update of VCAI Rules’ published on the website.

Comment on Rules Update:

As VCAI has progressed, some minor changes have been identified to better reflect our present and future ‘Objects.’ For example, our main remediation program, Timor Awakening, has evolved subsequent to the formation of VCAI in 2014. With a few minor exceptions, the VCAI Rules follow the ‘model rules’ on the Qld Government Office of Fair-Trading website for charitable organisations.

Apart from some corrections or word changes, the main changes/additions to the Rules are in Section 3 and 3.1, ‘Objects’; Section 5 ‘Classes of Members’; and Section 7 ‘Membership’. Please follow the links to read or download the Proposed VCAI Update Rules and the Original VCAI Rules.

Note: according to our present rules only financial members are entitled to vote

Financial members who cannot attend the Special General Meeting may forward their vote on the official form (please download Voting Form here) or request the secretary to post a form for their use.  The signed form should be posted / emailed to arrive a business day before the special meeting or given to the secretary before the start of the meeting, so it can be counted in the voting.

Financial members may alternatively nominate a proxy (please download the proxy form here) to vote for them at the meeting, if sent to the secretary by mail /email to arrive a business day before the meeting; or handed to the secretary before the start of the meeting.

To become a financial member of VCAI, please download, complete and return this form.

A Committee meeting will start shortly after completion of the Special General Meeting.

Good News in Veterans Care – July

Please join us for our next gathering:

WhenSaturday 11th August 2018
Time10:00am – 1.00pm (includes lunch)
Where: Mates4Mates – Douglas Street Milton

Dear Sandra,

We have much to be grateful for, as we enter into the second half of 2018. A full update on what we’ve achieved, and where we are going will be provided at our gathering on 11Aug,
but the highlights are:

• The qualitative evaluation of TA6 has been completed by Michael Stone and our Consultant Psychologist Chris Hully. It’s an impressive read. See it here

 

• The Australian Veterans Scholarship Scheme, (an inspiration of Michael Stone), for education of children of Timorese veterans has so far raised $11,700. Thank you donors . Giving is good for your health! Get involved – see www.timorawakening.com

 

• Veteran Marty Kruck raised $12,000 for VCA in his epic 1681 km “41 for 41” walk around the Redlands. Thank you Marty for honouring our fallen and supporting the work of VCA.

• Veteran and Knights of Southern Cross member, Mike Harris, gathered 170 people and raised $2,400 for VCA in a Trivia night, in conjunction with Australian American Association and Camp Hill Catholic parish. Thanks Mike.

• On a short notice invitation from Timorese Govt , Michael Stone has organised a 12 person Commemorative tour in Timor 13-22 Aug to celebrate Falantil Day (similar to Anzac Day) open memorials in Ossu honoring Aussies and Timorese who fought in this area in WW2, and do some voluntary construction work at the Lohuno Veterans retreat. Representatives from each of the TA groups will attend. Thanks to RSL QLD for funding this.

• A 29 person TA7 Group will be in Timor 9-9 Sep. Thanks to Bolton Clark , RSL QLD and Aust Commando Assn for funding this.

• Extensive filming with VCA staff and members was completed for Bolton Clark’s Veterans family toolkit, video series. We look forward to its launch in coming months.

• VCA had made a submission to DVA review of advocacy support. See our VCA website for the detail. We are calling for the employment of paid welfare and pensions advocates.

Many, many more individual interactions – coaching sessions, education talks, pastoral care etc. have and continue to occur in the midst of all these events, and much administrative support from our committee members underpins all of this. Thanks to all who contribute.

The bottom line is that we are veterans caring for veterans. Yes we do this because we care. We are also inspired by the message of Jesus who once proclaimed :

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon us, for he has anointed us to bring good news to the afflicted, to proclaim liberty to captives, to bring new sight to the blind, to set the downtrodden free, and proclaim the Lords favour.” Luke 4:16-19.

All of these outcomes are being fulfilled in what we together are doing.

May god bless you all.

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

New Awakenings for Veterans and their Families

For the past few years the Veterans Care Association (VCA), based in Brisbane, have been working on front line veteran rehabilitation, supporting many hundreds of clients and their families. VCA’s tactical objective is to improve the health and wellbeing of the veterans they engage with daily, but their strategic objective has been to model and improve the systemic way Veterans Health is managed, moving it from the current “treating sickness” model to a “promoting wellness” model. All of the core VCA team are seasoned veterans and committed Christians who have experienced the good and bad of what is currently on offer snd they have cobbled together a best practice veteran friendly service.

Chaplain Gary Stone, a veteran of some 47 years service, ( 8/9 RAR , 6RAR , 1RAR ) and his son Michael, a veteran of 20 years service ( 2 RAR, 8/9 RAR) , lead a group of veteran clinicians and peer support carers engaging ill and injured veterans in peer support, encouragement, holistic health education, and life coaching. Gary says , “Frankly, veterans are not responding well to the so called “Gold standard” of medication and cognitive/exposure therapy. At a recent Post Traumatic Stress conference in Brisbane it was reported that 1/3 of veterans are actually getting worse from the clinical treatments they are getting. All the clients VCA are seeing are making significant improvements, as they open up and respond to fellow veterans, who encourage them.”

VCA currently provides a comprehensive peer support, health and wellbeing education programme, engaging disengaged veterans and educating them about health and wellbeing possibilities and/ or getting them into clinical therapy before they become acute cases requiring hospitalisation. They utilise a front line team of chaplains and peer supporters-all very experienced former military officers , and a second row of Doctors, Nurses, Psychologists, and Social workers who advise both staff and clients.

The central message VCA offers to veterans is that they can live much healthier lives if they deliberately give attention to nurturing their body, mind and soul , as well as living with a positive life purpose. Soul nurture, including healing for moral injury is the missing ingredient in all other rehab programmes on offer in Australia. To drive home the potential and importance of faith, the VCA team takes participants to Timor, where they hear the amazing stories of the Timorese who were victorious against all odds, with faith in God as their underpinning hope.

Designed and developed by Michael Stone, VCA’s Flagship activity is a 9 month “Timor Awakening” (TA) rehabilitation program, involving 3 months preparation, a 12 day immersion in Timor along with Timorese veterans and a 6 month follow up period. VCA have conducted five of these programmes with 125 participants and support of 20 veteran volunteer staff members, and are preparing for two more programmes in 2018. In Timor they get a “mountaintop experience’ – a circuit breaker awakening that their lives can improve , and they find new purpose and identity.

The detailed evaluation data VCA have collected and had externally analyzed by clinical psychologists and medical officers, presents solid evidence that the program is significantly reducing symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression in all participants, and conversely improving quality of life. These results are being sustained over the long term, through regular follow up, and the participation by many participants in “Life Coaching” offered by veteran Michael Albrecht.

TA alumni are engaging and assisting with ESO (especially RSL) and are making positive contributions to the veteran community and society. Noteworthy is the case of TA 2 participant, 15 year navy veteran Kerri Howie who has recently given public testimony in the Catholic Leader newspaper (circulation 33,000 nationwide) of her coming to VCA in a state of deep depression and drug addiction, and subsequent to TA has been rehabilitated and has returned to Timor walking 160 km from Dili to Betano conducting a health clinic in every village en route. “I’m now inspired. I have purpose. I feel alive and I look forward to many opportunities ahead”- Kerri.

Another significant outcome has been the mutual support given to the Timorese veterans and Government of Timor in progressing veteran support initiatives. The recently elected Prime Minister Mari Alkitiri hosted the TA5 group in his office, and heard first hand from VCA staff on what his Government could be doing to enhance veteran support. This occurred simultaneously with the Governments release of a 40 min documentary on the TA experience that has been shown nationally in Timor. VCA have produced the following short videos on Youtube and currently working on a professional documentary with interviews of participants.


Timor Awakening Commandos Return October 2017 Introduction Video (2 Minutes)


Timor Awakening 5 General Video (5 Mins)

VCA wishes to continue to offer TA experiences. They have more applicants than they can support, but their capacity for veteran support is significantly diminished by the time an effort they must put into fund raising. The programmes delivered to date have been made possible largely through the Sponsorship of RSL Qld and RSL Care – now known as Bolton Clarke. Further sponsorships and donations are most welcome.

Michael Stone says, “Defence has given many of us extensive training in leadership, training and development, to be able to design and deliver these programmes, and healing our struggling veterans is an honourable task for us veterans to be engaged in. Experienced veterans can care for younger veterans in ways that civilian clinicians can’t. Younger veterans trust us and can be led into new lives because they know we understand them and we care. The deepest issues for veterans are not psychiatric-they relate to identity, purpose and connection with God and others. We can offer the empowerment for these to be rediscovered and realized.”

Comprehensive information on this work is available at www.veteranscare.com.au

Gary Stone
President
Veterans Care Association

Gary served 25 years as an infantry officer in the Army, before ordination as a married
Deacon in 1994. Since then he has served as an army and police chaplain, has led extensive
humanitarian ministries in Timor Leste, and is now chaplain to the ex service community in
SEQLD. Gary has been married to Lynne for over 43 years and they have four adult children
and three grandchildren.

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