RSL Victoria is providing veterans with the financial security they need to age well.
When a life of national service has tragically led to hardship, sometimes all veterans need is an advocate to help.
For the many veterans who’ve sustained physical, emotional or mental injuries during service, RSL Victoria has been that advocate.
“Some veterans successfully transition to civilian life after they’ve finished their service but a number of them don’t,” says RSL Victoria CEO Sue Cattermole.
“They may face challenges that affect their financial wellbeing and ability to age well, like unemployment, mental health issues and homelessness.”
Cattermole says the veteran population may experience greater physical and psychological challenges as they age when compared to the civilian population. “As a result, many may not have the funds they need behind them when they come to retire. They really struggle.”
RSL Victoria advocates on behalf of veterans to ensure they receive the entitlements they’re due, such as compensation. It runs a support phone line called 1300 MILVET for veterans to help them connect with essential services as they age.
“We get a lot of calls about compensation. It’s common to have veterans coming forward, asking for assistance to claim their benefits 30 years after their discharge. Sometimes when they talk to us,
it’s actually the first time they’ve ever spoken to anyone about it.”
A poignant case occurred recently when a former driver in the Women's Australian Army Corp approached RSL Victoria for help.
“Her last posting was in a Sydney transport unit where she was bullied and had barbaric things done to her. At the time, she did not receive counselling or support. She left the army suddenly because of what had occurred and didn’t receive the benefits she was owed because of the way she left.”
Consequently, her marriage broke down and her life fell apart. She never told anyone what happened until much later.
“A few years ago, she contacted us. We discovered that she'd seen a psychiatrist prior to her discharge because of her mental health. Due to this, she was able to make a claim for rehabilitation compensation.”
The woman won her compensation claim at age 65. She received backdated superannuation and regular monetary assistance, which provided her with the financial security she needed to age well. “She had a very hard life because of the way she was discharged. But she’s now free from stress and can get on with her life.”
Many other veterans are still in need of help.
“With greater funding, we could do a lot more to support many more veterans and their families to age well,” Cattermole says.
“We believe every veteran should have a good quality of life in their older years. As they age, they should enjoy the confidence and knowledge that the necessary structures are in place to assist their physical, mental, emotional and financial wellbeing as they age. Everyone deserves that.”
For more information about RSL Victoria visit https://rslvic.com.au/ and to get involved see https://rslvic.com.au/get-involved
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