From the time he was a very young man, Frank was a restless soul. Not content to settle in one place for too long, he has led a life of travel and adventure accompanied by his wife of more than 40 years, Del.
While much of his travel had been to places of his choice, Frank’s darkest days were when, in his prime, he deployed to Vietnam as an army engineer. When he left Vietnam’s shores after his second deployment, he vowed never to go back to “that dirty, stinking hell hole”.*
Frank’s post-deployment life was transient. He lived throughout the United States and in Mexico, finally settling in Malaysia. Then, in January 2014, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He immediately packed up and headed back to Australia and booked in to John Flynn Hospital on the Gold Coast for chemotherapy – a place that he knew and at which he would be comfortable.
However, with no permanent residence in Australia, Frank and his wife had little option but to live in a motel nearby the hospital while he was undergoing treatment. Although that was a practical and cost effective solution, being cooped up in a small room with no outdoor living area was not conducive to respite or recovery between treatment sessions.
That was when Frank was referred to Angus House at Toowong. Funded by RSL (Queensland Branch), Angus House provides inexpensive, short-term accommodation for people like Frank and Del.
“We come to Angus House on weekends between treatment. It is more comfortable and relaxed here. Lynda and Tina provide a caring and welcoming environment, and lovely meals, which takes away a lot of worry and means we can enjoy some quality time together as Frank battles his illness,” explained Del.
In addition to providing housing solutions for people undertaking specialist medical care or counselling in Brisbane and its surrounds, Angus House is also accessible to veterans, ADF members and their dependents who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
“The people who stay at Angus House all have a connection to the forces. There is a respect and understanding among the residents which means we all have our space, but can share experiences as part of our healing too.”
And RSL’s support of Frank and Del has not ended at providing a short-term accommodation solution at Angus House.
When they started talking about finding a permanent place to settle in Queensland, the team at Angus House referred Frank and Del to the Facilities team at RSL (Queensland Branch) who were able to secure rent-subsidised RSL housing for them in Yeppoon.
Unknown to them at the time, RSL (Queensland Branch) owns and operates more than 80 housing units throughout the state for people like Frank and Del who might otherwise have trouble finding quality, affordable accommodation in peaceful, safe communities.
Frank has now completed his treatment and is living in a lovely unit in the heart of Yeppoon, close to the beach and all major facilities.
The last word from Frank:
“Yeppoon is probably the best place we’ve lived. The others in the complex are there for each other, but we do not live in each other’s pockets. It’s nice to know we have friends there if we need them. As a Vietnam Veteran, I had never had anything to do with the RSL ... we are extremely grateful to RSL (Queensland Branch) for stepping in so quickly and providing us with so much support.”
Sadly, we lost Frank to his illness in November 2015. RSL continues to provide accommodation for Del (and her beloved dog, Buddy) in Yeppoon.
*For the record, Frank has since returned to Vietnam and has changed his view of the country. He could see that the work he had done as an engineer, including building five bridges, had made a huge difference to the lives of the locals and has a sense of pride in what he achieved there.