Veterans on the Sunshine Coast are being urged to reconnect and experience the sense of community and mateship many of them lose after leaving the Australian Defence Force.
The Mooloolaba Surf Club will host a family day with veteran support groups, RSL Sunshine Coast and Mates4Mates this Sunday January 10.
RSL Sunshine Coast & Regional District President Tony Ferris said the day would give veterans and their families the opportunity to experience the support of their community and realise they’re not alone.
“People who leave the Defence Force often feel an overwhelming sense of not belonging to something and that can have a serious negative impact on their lives," Mr Ferris said.
“By becoming involved with local clubs and support groups veterans begin to realise they do have a purpose and there is a network of people to rely on.
“We estimate there are 16,000 veterans living on the Sunshine Coast and grassroots organisations such as surf clubs have an important role to play in re-integrating veterans into civilian life.”
Now a lifesaver and instructor at the Mooloolaba Surf Club, 40 year old army veteran Bill Ochman said he wanted his fellow veterans to experience the atmosphere of being a part of the club.
“My two girls joined the nippers six years ago. I saw the team work and physical and mental challenges of being involved in a surf club and started participating,” Mr Ochman said.
“We meet, train together, and motivate each other. I found it was a great way to stay active and form the camaraderie and mateship I lost after leaving the army.”
Mooloolaba Surf Club President Dave Jewry said the organisation had a long history of supporting veterans and there was a current contingent of more than 40 veterans involved in the club.
“Veterans form a large part of our club, we even have a Vietnam veterans breakfast each Thursday morning and we’d like as many veterans and their families as possible along on the day,” Mr Jewry said.
“A Nipper carnival will be held on the day so bring the kids along, let them get involved and enjoy the controlled chaos of a colourful day.”
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