An RSL for all generations04 June 2021
There’s a common misconception that RSL Queensland is only for ex-service personnel who’ve been deployed on operations; a myth we’re on a quest to dispel.
RSL Queensland’s whole reason for being is to ensure a bright future and enduring legacy for all veterans and their families. As veterans, our members know how beneficial a helping hand can be to them and their families both during their military career and after they leave service.
RSL Queensland Veteran Affairs and Policy General Manager and Air Force veteran Rob Skoda says it’s important for veterans to have a strong community behind them.
“We have to be there as a net to hold and support our mates post-service,” he says. “Working individually helps no-one and only further isolates veterans who may be in need. We truly are stronger together.”
Rob says data sourced from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs shows we have more than 200,000 veterans in Queensland, which includes more than 180,000 ex-serving and over 18,500 currently in service.
“There’s also over 1,600 people transitioning into service and some 1,765 transitioning to civilian life, and then when you consider their family members who may also require support, it is easy to see why it is vital we continue working hard to reach as many members of the Defence family as possible.”
WHAT MAKES A VETERAN?
Supporting veterans is at the heart of everything RSL Queensland does. We answer thousands of calls each year from the Defence community – all with the goal of helping them achieve a quality of life that is equal to or greater than the average population. Since we started on our mission over 100 years ago, veterans and their needs have evolved. Our commitment is to ensure we are relevant to all veterans, regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity.
We know anecdotally that the community often thinks the word ‘veteran’ refers only to those who served in Vietnam and World Wars. In actual fact, veterans are a very broad community of service personnel, some as young as 17. Some have served overseas, some haven’t. Some have discharged from Defence, and some are still serving. But regardless, they’ve earned their place in the veteran community.
We also know that for some, the word veteran feels out of place in this modern world. Some prefer to be called ex-servicemen or ex-servicewomen, while those currently serving prefer the term military personnel.
The research we carried out as part of our Member Value Proposition in 2020 showed the majority of members surveyed related to the term ‘veteran’. More broadly, the data shows us that there is no one ‘perfect’ term when it comes to discussing this matter. Rob says he understands the differing views around the use of the term veteran.
“There’s no denying the word and what it represents is evolving,” he says. “It is the natural evolution of what our Defence family looks like today. Importantly, hearing from thousands of veterans directly means we are able to hear firsthand what it is our younger veteran cohort needs and step up to offer services that meet them.
“Change is an ongoing process and while we’re working at all levels to ensure the quality of life for veterans and their families is improved, we will also continue to reflect on what the word veteran means and how it represents our Defence family as we all evolve. What is essential is that we are inclusive, not divisive.”
RSL QUEENSLAND IS FOR ALL EX-SERVICE PERSONNEL
The ‘and’ in our name Returned and Services League is small but mighty. It is the linking element that shows we are an organisation for not only those who have returned from service or combat, but also for those who served – or are still serving – in any capacity.
Our services support veterans and their families across their entire lives, including at times when they may experience hardship or vulnerability.
We mustn't discount the profound impact of assisting a veteran with their DVA claim, supporting them to find meaningful employment after transition, or connecting them to social groups. Anecdotally we know this holistic support can be the key to someone turning their life around.
Rob agrees there is inherent value in the work RSL Queensland does for veterans and their families.
“It sounds obvious to say, but we do stand by our core purpose to provide assistance to the Defence community no matter their age, gender or service history,” he says.
“Leaving life in the Defence Force can be challenging for so many reasons and it is often overwhelming. A lot of our younger veterans don’t know life outside of service. They need our understanding and help in discovering and forging a new path.
“We’re here to make dealing with complex issues easier through helping them navigate the complexities of life. Our ultimate goal is to enable veterans and their families to lead proud and independent lives, with a quality of life that is equal to or greater than the average population.”
HOW WE HELP MAKE SENSE OF IT ALL
RSL Queensland supports veterans and their families in many ways, and it might be surprising for some people to see the list of services available.
“I’m confident that if a veteran called RSL Queensland there would be a person or program available to help them – either through us, through our numerous partners or through our amazing Sub Branch community,” Rob says.
“That’s the beauty of what we do. Whether it’s structured support like our RSL Employment and RSL Scholarship programs, helping veterans transition back into the community, or through connecting a veteran with new mates by joining their local Sub Branch, there is no reason why any veteran should be left feeling like they have to tackle these stages alone.”
OUR COMMUNITY SHAPES US
RSL Queensland has spent more than 100 years working to build and foster a community where veterans can find connection, support and understanding. As we look to the future, our mission to provide veteran support while evolving to meet the needs of our ever-changing community remains as relevant as ever.
And it isn’t something we can do alone. It’s our more than 30,000 members across 227 Sub Branches that shape us, push us to evolve and proudly make us Queensland’s largest ex-services organisation.
Our services and ability to achieve our goals in the next five years (and beyond) relies on the strength of our community and our ability to understand the needs of veterans today, tomorrow and in the future.
The next time you talk with a mate who might need support transitioning to civilian life, finding their feet a few years after leaving the service, or whose family needs additional assistance, send them our way.
RSL Queensland is your community and we’re here, shoulder to shoulder, always.