Sheedy’s call to support veterans this ANZAC Day
They serve their country with pride, yet a devastating number of veterans continue to face significant mental health and financial impacts.
New data by veterans support agency Bravery Trust shows the organisation received 10,000 calls for assistance since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a 20 per cent surge in requests for assistance since federal financial support ended last month.
Mental health advocate and trauma counsellor Paul Spinks said COVID-19 further limited social contact and support networks for already isolated veterans.
"They have become broken by life and their mental health degraded through the impact of PTSD," he said. "Many are homeless and find themselves out of energy to keep fighting."
Dr Stephanie Hodson, national manager of Open Arms, said the pandemic has brought a 'new normal' that veterans and the Australian public have had to adapt to.
"It is important that we are checking in with people who have an existing mental health issue," she said.
"Open Arms offers free and confidential counselling, peer support, self-help resources, crisis accommodation support, group treatment programs and suicide intervention workshops."
Gary Daly, 54, served in Afghanistan and Iraq for four years, but was discharged suffering PTSD and physical injuries sustained during his service.
He was struggling to make car repayments until Bravery Trust stepped in.
"My worries about the health of my children overwhelmed me and my finances went out the window," Mr Daly said.
"I was living one confusing day at a time and my kids didn't know what I was going through. I don't have close friends and my anxiety exacerbated my PTSD."
Australians can help servicemen and women from today until ANZAC Day.
When customers purchase Coles brand biscuits, Coles will donate 50 cents per pack to Bravery Trust, which provides financial support to more than 800 veterans each year. Customers can also donate at the checkout.
AFL legend and Bravery Trust ambassador Kevin Sheedy - who conceived the first MCG ANZAC Day football game in 1995 - is getting behind the fundraiser.
"The pandemic has caused significant mental and financial stress on some of our returned veterans, and we've seen this reflected in the number of requests for support," he said.
"Having the extra mental and financial support is often critical to ensure a successful transition back into civilian life."
Bravery Trust CEO Belinda Wilson said: "By providing financial support, it means that the veteran can focus on their wellness journey, employment and their family, without financial pressures."
Originally published as Sheedy's call to support veterans this ANZAC Day