More Queensland veterans who have overcome the psychological effects of active service, will be given the tools to help their peers get on the path to a better life, after the state’s Masonic charity provided a hand up.
Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland has funded the training of 21 former Trojan’s Trek participants, who themselves are veterans, to conduct week-long wilderness based support intervention programs for their peers including one at Millmerran on the Darling Downs, later this year – helping participants to adapt to life after deployment.
Trojan’s Trek spokesperson Peter Keith said that settling back into civilian life was challenging for many who have been in active service and that one of the best ways to help change mindsets was through peer support.
“Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and mental illnesses like depression and anxiety can be incredibly debilitating, so for veterans to want to participate in this peer support program, shows that they are keen to hear from others who have been through similar experiences and have turned their lives around,” said Peter.
“This $15,000 grant will help empower these former participants to make a powerful impact on their peers and potentially help save lives.”
“It’s a trek of the mind more than anything, with veterans helping veterans in a setting where everyone is equal and can express their feelings, learn how to communicate and harness the tools to navigate a meaningful life after service – for them and their families,” he said.
Former participant and now mentor, Michael Harding, welcomed the grant saying backing of this kind would send a strong signal to the veteran community that they are not forgotten.
“I, like many of our strongest men and women, returned from service feeling broken and very alone, not knowing how to deal with my emotions. While there is no quick fix, the range of support I received including Trojan’s Trek allowed me to change my mentality from victim to warrior,” he said.
“Other veterans need the opportunity to take that first step towards a better life,” he said.
Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said initiatives that support men’s mental and physical health and women’s financial and physical security are part of the organisation’s long-term strategy.
“This grant will help Trojan’s Trek to continue to alleviate suffering and improve the quality of life of ex-service personnel, empowering them to lead better lives – having already helped over 200 ex-servicemen and more than 60 ex-servicewomen in the last 9 years,” he said.
Photo: Representatives of Trojan’s Trek accept a grant for $15,000 from Hand Heart Pocket.