Continuing the discussion after Remembrance Day

It must be daunting, looking for a career outside of Defence when you’ve been living a world away from civilian life for so long.

Finding work after the military and developing a lifestyle post-service understandably takes some time.

Fairfax Media journalists spoke to a number of ex-service personnel this week, along with some of the people tasked with helping them find their way when they get home.

Former Australian Royal Navy member Kelly Walter decided to transition into a different career after 13 years in the navy, to spend more time with her children.

“When you leave Defence, you’re a bit lost I guess,” she said.

“Whilst Defence does give you some support for restarting – you might get a resume or career training – more often than not your skills don’t transfer easily to a civilian job.”

She described it as being back in the “real world”, a thought most likely echoed by many ex-service women and men.

Here in Launceston, RSL ADF welfare team president Nadia Titley said more focus needed to be placed on support services for veterans.

She said the transition from service to everyday life could be incredibly challenging, sometimes leading to substance abuse and depression.

On Remembrance Day, we pause to remember fallen soldiers. It is important to honour and remember those who died fighting for their country.

But it is equally important not to forgot those who are still with us. The men and women who return home and have to settle back into civilian life.

Ms Titley said the gap lay in that transitioning back into normal life – dealing with bills and groceries, the things that become such normal parts of life.

The Launceston RSL’s welfare team was formed about eight months ago to address this “growing gap”.

It sounds like they are building momentum to bridge that gap, which is a big step in the right direction.

One thing that helps people adjust to a different lifestyle is routine and employment, so the national Veterans Employment Program that was launched last year is another great step in a positive direction.

But it’s a conversation that needs to continue beyond Remembrance Day.

  • If you are struggling with depression, you can contact Lifeline on 131 114 or beyondblue on 1300 224 636.