While many people took time on Remembrance Day in respect of Australia’s fallen soldiers, welfare officers are calling on the community not to forget the veterans still with us.
Launceston RSL ADF Welfare Team was formed around eight months ago in response to what president Nadia Titley described as a “growing gap” in support services for veterans.
The dedicated team provide a range of services to former and current ADF members, who have fallen on hard times with current clients aged from 27 to 91.
A welfare officer herself, Ms Titley said the transition from service to everyday life can be incredibly challenging, often resulting in substance abuse and depression.
“Returning from service is a very complex and often difficult transition,” she said.
“They go from having a roof over their head, getting fed everyday, getting told what to do.
“They didn’t have to pay bills or any of those things.
“Then they get sent home and it hits them.
“It’s like, now what?
“That is where the gap lies and I am working quite hard with a lot of different people to see if we can bridge that gap.”
The Launceston RSL was established in 1916 – the first chartered sub branch in Tasmania and now the oldest continuously running sub branch in the Southern Hemisphere.
Ms Titley said she is simply carrying on the work of Second Lieutenant Austin Albert Heritage, the founder of the Tasmanian League and a veteran himself.
“This time of year in particular is the worst for many people,” she said.
“Yesterday we found someone who had been couch surfing for six months and he is finally ready to chat.
“We can start the steps to get him into a house and feeling better about things.
“Starting on Remembrance Day and in the build up to Christmas, this is where we see the most issues.
“It is really important that people know they can come and see us.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14.