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Learn from our community: Supporting war veterans

All over Australia, on Anzac Day (25 April), we commemorate more than 60,000 Australians who died during World War I. At Mable, this year for Anzac Day, we would like to acknowledge all our war veterans who protected their country during this time and continue to live among us.

According to this article in The Conversation, being a military personnel comes with exposure to trauma during combat, peace-keeping missions, border protection, disaster and humanitarian relief, and training accidents. Veterans may have also experienced significant emotional and psychological impact. As such, the support they need also varies significantly. 

Independent Support Workers operating via the Mable platform provide support services to people from all walks of life, including war veterans. To commemorate this year’s Anzac Day, we asked support workers operating via Mable to share their experience and insights on providing support to veterans.

Belinda*, an Independent Support Worker on Mable, who has herself been a military nurse for more than two decades, says most veterans need physical and mental health support after what they have witnessed while protecting their country. 

“These psychosocial challenges may be impacting their families, friends and general quality of life. Support workers can guide veterans to seek counselling for resilience building, anger management, substance abuse, suicidal ideations and various other mental challenges as well as identifying stressors and implementing strategies.”

Support workers, she adds, can assist them in connecting with other veterans in their community to encourage social wellbeing. “They can also help veterans in and around their home or in community participation to ensure they reach their ongoing goals and successfully become a vital part of their community.”

How different does support look for a veteran?

John*, another Independent Support Worker on Mable, says, “Veterans have had vastly different experiences – for example, lengthy deployments in overseas war zones, long separations from family, they have often lived for long periods in a military ‘family’ style environment that catered to all their normal daily needs such as accommodation, health care, food, clothing, transport, washing, etc.”

As a result, John adds, a veteran with long experience full-time in the military has never had to worry about everyday issues, such as paying bills or socialising in a normal civilian environment. “They need to undergo a major readjustment and realignment of their everyday concerns and type of employment to successfully integrate back into society.”

Dos and Don’ts

Belinda and John suggest:

  • Show empathy and be flexible in your expectations of their needs and issues, as they differ dramatically from those of the average civilian.
  • Understand that some of their experiences can cause challenges in their ability to deal with loud noises or confined spaces. Manage your expectations and assistance around this reality.
  • Encourage them to access the various pensions, health entitlements, counselling services or other services that they can access from the government and other community organisations.
  • Be kind. 
  • Never ask questions about their experiences in the war, as it could be a trigger. Let them take the lead. All veterans believe in mutual respect. So, being on time for an appointment reflects respect towards them.
  • Always respect their boundaries.

Providing support to a veteran, however, isn’t always about physical or mental support. Peter*, a client on the Mable platform and a war veteran, lives with PTSD and anxiety. However, Peter has sought Independent Support Workers through Mable to help him stay on top of his day-to-day administrative tasks, manage his schedule and generally, help him stay organised.

Although the support Peter requires is not the usual kind, support workers do need to bear in mind his background while working with him.

If you are an Independent Support Worker on the Mable platform, we welcome you to share your experiences of having worked with veterans. If you are a veteran looking for support, or your loved one is, find a support worker via Mable today.

*names have been changed upon request

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