RSL DefenceCare has today launched its annual ANZAC Appeal, one of the organisation’s biggest fundraising campaigns for the year. Culminating on ANZAC Day, April 25, the need to fund grassroots programs that directly assist veterans has never been greater, with DefenceCare experiencing a 27% increase year-on-year in requests for assistance from veterans and their families in New South Wales.
The target for this year’s campaign is $1.5 million, a figure crucial to enable DefenceCare to further grow their grassroots services that directly help current and ex-serving members of the Australian Defence Force in need. With 50% of all funds remaining in the communities across NSW in which they were collected to fund local welfare, the ANZAC Appeal effectively maintains grassroots support all over the State.
The demand for such grassroots services, driven by individual support, direct financial assistance to veterans and advocacy to ensure appropriate DVA recognition, continues to be reinforced by troubling figures recently released by the National Mental Health Commission. Such findings include that suicide death cases are 13% higher for former serving ADF members than in the average population, particularly for those below 30 years of age.
These and other cases of attempted suicide and self-harm as outlined in the report, combined with other recent figures of veteran homelessness, speak to a great need to support veterans on a case-by-case basis following discharge.
“We see the human face of these statistics play out on a daily basis, with the mental health issues faced by many veterans exacerbated by chronic physical pain as a result of their service to our country,” said Robyn Collins, General Manager of DefenceCare.
“We work at the coalface, trying to provide compassionate, caring support to each individual in need of help. We are appreciative of the growing support from the NSW Government, and are always happy to receive the many referrals from Defence, DVA, Legacy and Soldier On of veterans who need our assistance. Such collaboration is crucial in dealing with these important issues.”
The ANZAC Appeal encourages all Australians to celebrate the Courage of our veterans and the personal battles many face when they are back home, by donating and receiving a pin from volunteers or online at www.anzacappeal.com.au. It will also seek to highlight the Courage that it takes for veterans to ask for help, with many only seeking assistance once in a dire situation.
“I see first-hand the impact of funding on our ability to directly help veterans, and with an almost-30% increase in requests for assistance, I also feel we are still scratching the surface of just how big the issue of effective veteran support and advocacy really is,” said James Dallas, Claims and Advocacy Manager at DefenceCare and veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns.
“As a people-driven organisation, the ANZAC Appeal is crucial to enable us to bring on board more case workers and advocates, and deliver direct emergency financial assistance to a growing number of veterans.”
“Such services are crucial in supporting veterans as early as possible – the message we want to give is one of hope and that help is available to those veterans who might be struggling.”
Corporal Mollie Gray is an ambassador for this year’s ANZAC Appeal. An Afghanistan veteran serving in operational support, Mollie has served ten years in the Australian Army. She is also a nationally-capped Rugby player and current member of the Cronulla Sharks Women’s Rugby League Team.
“I am proud to be an ambassador for this year’s ANZAC Appeal, and lend my voice to such an important cause. The many men and women who have served our country deserve to have compassion and care when they need help, and this is something DefenceCare delivers in spades.”
So lets all make a difference and lend a hand…
by Arrnott Olssen
Editor Rogue Homme