RSL Queensland has received an increase in calls from veterans in the lead up to Christmas seeking help with paying power bills, rent and car registration as well as food and other basic necessities.
RSL Queensland State President Stewart Cameron CSC said there had also been a significant increase in calls and emails from veterans’ family members seeking advice and assistance for their loved ones.
“Christmas can be a really challenging time for veterans and their families,” Mr Cameron said.
“Apart from balancing the budget with the extra expenses of presents, food, parties and more, it can also be stressful to meet the expectations of family and friends.
“While it’s a festive season for many of us, it can trigger feelings of loss, loneliness and anxiety amongst our current and former service personnel.”
Mr Cameron said nearly 200 people called RSL Queensland’s Client Contact Centre over the past month.
“A significant portion of calls were about welfare assistance, especially financial assistance,” he said.
“This includes homelessness, employment and covering the current high cost of utilities.”
Mr Cameron said RSL Queensland provided a range of financial, health and community-based services across the state and encouraged veterans and their families to reach out if they needed help.
“More than half of the people who contacted RSL Queensland in the past year were under the age of 50,” he said.
“We also have a large community of older veterans and families of former and current service personnel.”
Mr Cameron said RSL Queensland offered mental health support, bereavement assistance, emergency and long-term housing solutions and more.
“Our Mates4Mates program offers veterans and their families a place to meet and socialise as well as rehabilitation programs, a fitness gym and counselling,” he said.
“We work with other ex-service organisations and have a network of 240 sub-branches across the state with hundreds of volunteers on the ground who make home and hospital visits to veterans and their families as well as provide a host of other services.”
Mr Cameron urged all veterans and their families seeking information or support to contact RSL Queensland or the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) which offered 24-hour counselling 365 days a year.
“Many people who have served are reluctant to ask for help – they see it as a weakness or failure of some sort,” he said.
“But the military community is a family and RSL Queensland exists to support and enrich the lives of veterans and their loved ones, so I urge anyone in our extended family to pick up the phone to us if they would like a hand.”
Veterans and families seeking assistance can call VVCS on 1800 011 046 for counselling and The Salvation Army on 07 3173 6458 for emergency accommodation. RSL Queensland can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.