Soldier On, safe Haven
SOLDIER On will create a community of support for recent armed forces veterans and their families tackling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other injuries when the charity moves to new Floreat offices this month.
“You just have to ask for help, and you keep going by drawing on the supporters around you,” Soldier On ambassador Liam Haven (27) said.
Mr Haven was blinded by a roadside bomb while he served with the army in Iraq on 2008.
He took up art to “relax” from the stress of learning to use a white cane, and at the new office he will teach other veterans the guitar. However, he said armed services’ attitudes to asking for help were hard to change.
Incidences of PTSD are expected to increase as army, air force and navy veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and border control approach 70,000, with Australia continuing its participation in the conflicts.
Soldier On WA manager Ray Wilson said police, firefighters and ambulance paramedics were increasingly affected by PTSD because of more drunken and drug-affected violence and tragic incidents.
Soldier On, established in 2012, is known for fundraising using extreme sports and activities mirroring military missions.
It additionally uses low-impact activities such as yoga, morning bicycle rides, social groups and family days to stem the tide of PTSD-induced isolation, particularly in northern and southern suburbs where there are a large number of veterans.
The new offices provided by CSIRO, a Soldier On supporter, will have services including computer labs for veterans to write and do on-line courses.
It will also have classrooms so veterans can get qualifications for post-service lives and interview rooms where treatments can be discussed.
Contact with those who can help could as simple as attending a bicycle maintenance evening.
Liam Haven and Ray Wilson will take on veterans’ needs at the Soldier On office.