Queenslanders are being urged to reach out to veterans over the festive season to offer support during what can be a lonely and stressful time for those who have served.
RSL Queensland State President Stewart Cameron CSC said that while Christmas was a joyous occasion for most, it could trigger feelings of loss, isolation and dread for returned servicemen and women as well as their families.
“Social activities and crowded shopping centres can be particularly difficult for those who have served with noise, light and other factors leading to sensory overload and triggering feelings of anxiety and stress,” Mr Cameron said.
“For families, the increase in social events at this time of year, the expectations of family and friends and general feelings of exhaustion all compound stress and anxiety.
“If you are worried about someone this Christmas or think they might be feeling lonely, please check in with them and make sure they’re okay.”
Mr Cameron also encouraged veterans and their families to reach out for support through the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS), which offers 24-hour counselling 365 days a year.
VVCS National Manager Dr Stephanie Hodson CSC said in 2015-16 the service delivered more than 97,000 counselling sessions to more than 15,000 clients. More than 4,500 clients had their concerns resolved at intake, with 6,269 people accessing after hours counselling support.
“For the serving and ex-serving community, the festive season may trigger feelings of loss and isolation associated with sad memories. The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone,” said Dr Hodson.
“I would urge anyone who is feeling overwhelmed, to pick up the phone – the earlier people seek help, the sooner treatment can be provided.”
Dr Hodson said VVCS counselling and support for eligible current and former members of the Australian Defence Force, and their families is available 24/7 on 1800 011 046 and is provided by qualified mental health professionals with an understanding of military culture.