The loss of Afghanistan to the Taliban in the past fortnight has resulted in a spike in demand for support services from veterans, but help is available 24 hours a day.
Redcliffe RSL Veterans Welfare and Pensions Advocate Rosemary Mountford says some veterans are disengaged, others are anxious and some are thinking ‘it’s happened, move on’.
There are also veterans who have not recognised they have underlying mental health issues, which have now bubbled to the surface.
“It’s affected everyone in different ways. You have to be prepared for the whole range of emotions,” Rosemary says.
“I don’t think the full cascade has hit yet. They don’t understand the full ramifications of what’s happening. Some of them have personal relationships with some of the Afghan people and we’re waiting to see what is going happen with those fellows.”
She says a number of organisations are assisting veterans, as well as RSL Sub-Branch Welfare and Pensions Advocates.
“We’re making ourselves available to listen to their stories and to find out what they need,” Rosemary says.
“There are some that we are taking on because they’re long-term clients and they relate to us,” she says.
“It is important that they have those resources to reach out to because we can’t be here 24 hours a day. If anyone needs to drop in and have a chat, we have time available. Anyone who needs someone to sit with them in the evenings, we have a couple of volunteers doing that at the moment.”
Rosemary says the team is working with more than 100 Afghanistan War veterans.
“We have a lot of young veterans who come through here. Not just men, women too. They’re the forgotten ones,” she says.
“The face of our frontline has changed dramatically over the years.”
People worried about their loved ones can contact Redcliffe RSL during the day and Open Arms and Overwatch at night.
Her advice to veterans, “Remember your mates and keep in contact with each other because peer support is the most relevant thing at the moment”.
Phone Redcliffe RSL on 3897 6060.
Open Arms (24 hours)
Phone 1800 011 046 or visit openarms.gov.au
(offering peer-to-peer support)
Overwatch Australia (24 hours)
Phone 1800 699 2824 (1800 MYWATCH)
Phone 000 (Triple 0)