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Gippsland young veterans

Georgia Vahland  |  23 August 2018

This is a Fitness and Mateship program, designed to draw out as many young veterans in the local area as possible, to engage them and build a community of mateship with ex-military veterans.

The point of this program is to create a happy, safe and trusting place for veterans to gather for a one-hour gym session, then coffee, snacks and chats after the gym session.

Ben Vahland and other ex-military veterans in the area of Drouin to Warragul, Victoria, thought up the idea of gathering together. The ex-military veterans who created this program have lived through military situations and can identify with individuals from the RAN, RAAF and the Australian Army.

Whenever they returned to normal civilian life they found it difficult to fit it again and return to the normal everyday life they lived before.

Military veterans often feel more comfortable talking to other military veterans rather than everyday people, due to having an understanding of the military system and difficulties of service. Many veterans leave the service with serious physical injuries which take significant time to repair. However, they also often have mental health issues, including PTSD, which can last longer and sometimes forever. By creating this program, ex-military veterans can talk with each other about experiences, while enjoying a gym session and making social and emotional connections.

‘There was a man who had turned up to the first session. He was looking physically and mentally unwell. He was an alcoholic and was depending on alcohol daily. One of the other blokes got talking to him and tried to convince him to have a break from alcohol for a while. The following week he returned to the gym and was looking physically a lot better and seemed a lot happier. The same bloke who talked to him asked him about the alcohol. The man said he hadn't had a drink all that week!,’ Ben said.

This program is not only just about fitness and mental health, it’s also about making friends for life that will help and guide you through anything that life may bring.

Georgia Vahland is from St Catherine's Primary School, Berwick, VIC.


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