March 2018 News

Please come and join us for our gathering day this Saturday at Mates4Mates, Douglas St, Milton. 10am till 1pm (incl Lunch).

Michael Stone is just back from a 10 Day Recon in Timor and ready to brief us on arrangements for TA6 8-18 Apr.

Whilst there he had liaison on a range of other initiatives that he wants to float to our VCA community, including a scholarship scheme to train children of Timorese veterans at the ETDA hospitality school in Dili, plans for a special Anzac Day in Dili trip in 2019 and a 20 years since Liberation celebration in Sept 19, and development of the Timorese veterans centre and historical park – all great follow up activities for TA alumni. Our video production on TA5 is complete and we hope to show it to you and upload it to YouTube.

The VCA management committee had visits recently from Federal MP Trevor Evans, congratulating us on our Life Coaching (with Michael Albrecht) initiative and Lynette Gambrill, President of RSL Ladies Auxiliary, who presented us with a $2300 donation. Thanks to both of you.

Our collaboration with our major sponsor, Bolton Clarke ( formerly RSL CARE) continues to grow with invitations to speak at retirement villages around ANZAC Day, and involvement on a major Veterans Health and Wellbeing educational video which will be a national first in helping families and veterans better understand how to live happy and healthy lives, no matter what health conditions assail them from time-to-time. Thank you Pat McIntosh, Steve Muggleton and your staff.

RSL QLD have offered us a new sponsorship contract to support activities in 2018, with new additional specific funding to support the Timorese veterans and our ongoing relationship with them. Thank you Scott Denner, Katie Maloney and RSL QLD.

We continue to be grateful for the many individuals who support us financially and promote our message of Hope, through intentional health and well being, planning and peer support.


The Gospel we have been preaching is being heard and echoed in many Ex-Service forums. We set out to raise the level of health and well being of veterans and their families, and it is happening! I must say that God has blessed this activity and as we approach Easter let us also give thanks to God who desires that we live in the Fullness of life, (John 10:10).

May God bless you this Easter, and may you pass that blessing of love, joy and peace on to others.

Your Padre, Gary

Timor Awakening 5 Qualitative Report

Timor Awakening 5 (TA5), a 12-day holistic health program for veterans, was conducted in from 14 to 25 October 2017. The program included 1 day in Darwin, 4 days in Dili and 7 days throughout rural areas of Timor-Leste (TL) including the Districts of Aileu, Ainaro, Manu-Fahi, Liquisa and Bobonaro.

TA5 included 28 Australians (21 Veterans / 2 Care Participants / 5 support staff) and 12 Timorese Veterans. The 2 care participants included a wife/carer of one of the Veterans and the mother of a fallen Australian soldier who was killed in action in Afghanistan. Interestingly TA5 had 3 sets of veteran father and sons (ie all ex-serving returned servicemen). TA5 was supported by the Timor-Leste Office of the Prime Minister, the Timor-Leste Defence Force and National Police Force.

The backdrop of a developing and peaceful Timor-Leste is proving to be one that offers hope and healing for veterans of Timor-Leste and for all as Australians, given our significant contribution to peace in Timor-Leste. TA5 provided a multitude of modalities and experiences for individuals, small groups and large groups; including regular professional education and guidance, peer2peer support, physical exercise, mindfulness, meditation, aromatherapy, exposure and unique interaction with foreign communities and veterans. The program provided professional one-on-one guidance and periods of decompression at the start and conclusion of the immersion period.

To read/download the complete report, please click here. 

Photos from Timor Awakening 5

February 2018 News

Happy New Year!!

Please join us for our next gathering:

WhenSaturday 17th March 2018
Time10:00am – 1.00pm (includes lunch)
Where: Mates4Mates – Douglas Street Milton

We at VCA are determined that this be the best year of our lives yet!

Preparations are well under way for our sixth Timor Awakening which will deploy into Timor from 8 to 18 April with 22 participants and 5 staff. Each time we embrace lessons learned and suggestions from previous participants, and this trip will be slower paced and provide more times for sharing and reflection.

We will still be engaging with many Timorese and staying overnight in Dili, on the beach at Likisa, and in the fort at Balibo. Our briefing day for this trip is Sat 17 March and we welcome previous participants to come and share their experiences too. We are hoping to show our own produced video from TA5 Commando Return. The qualitative report from this programme is enclosed here. Special thanks to our VCA Clinical Psychologist, Chris Hully, for her outstanding work displaying in graphic form how people improved across every domain of health and wellbeing.

We have finally been recognised by DVA with the award of a one off $73,000 Grant to trial life Coaching for Veterans through funding Michael Albrecht for the next 12 months.
This is a great affirmation of our work. Michael has been a great asset to us, and we commend anyone to approach him for Life Coaching, which can be done face-to-face, or over the phone.

Special thanks to Rob Vicary at The Gap for offering Veterans and their families a free 1 hr massage and reflexology assessment. From experience I know Rob offers a great service. Rob was our Founding VCA secretary and is a professional Therapist. Click here to download the voucher.

In coming week, we are deliver health and well being education to various RSL and church groups, as well as participating in the DVA Mens Health Peer education programme.

Michael will also be off to Timor for a recon for TA6 as well as starting dialogue for TA 7 – 9-19 Sep 18, and 2019 trips involving Anzac Day in Dili and a 20th anniversary of Interfet trip in Sep 19.

Please drop in to see us any Monday morning at 2 Victoria Park Rd Kelvin Grove or any Tuesdayat Veterans Support Group, Leagues Club Drive Nerang.

I leave you with some kind words from Former Commando David Lynch who wrote to us after TA5…”Two months ago I embarked on Timor Awakening and it has had a profound effect upon me . The generosity displayed by Gary and Michael towards us and the Timorese people was unlike anything I have encountered in 77years.- truly the embodiment of caring people. I was able to immerse myself right from the start to absorb myself in the nurturing of body mind and soul which is at the core of your beliefs. Being with you has been the singular enduring emotional and physical experience of my life.”

Please join us on 17 March at Milton

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…)

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