Grounds for a successful DVA claim05 November 2019
The perception of RSL Queensland is changing among the younger Defence community, thanks to success stories like that of veteran Daniel Smith.
When Daniel Smith medically discharged from the Army in 2014 – after eight years of service in 6RAR – the prospect of life outside the military was daunting. “It was super difficult to try and readjust to civilian life again after being in the military for so long,” Daniel says.
His next challenge was trying to navigate the DVA claims process – a task he found confusing and almost gave up on.“There seems to be a lot of hoops that need to be jumped through and not really a clear roadmap to be able to get there. I remember kind of feeling overwhelmed and almost wondering if it was worth it,” Daniel says.
After reaching out to RSL Queensland, a trained advocate was allocated to assist with his claim.“They helped in what I should apply for and what would be accepted. They’ve done it a lot and they were able to really guide me through the claims process,” Daniel says.
During his discharge and rehabilitation, Daniel worked at the 6RAR Battalion Boozer, where he discovered his love of coffee. With a successful DVA claim processed, Daniel and his wife Anna were able to move ahead with establishing their own business based on the Gold Coast, First Fruits Coffee.
“We have a chain of cafes. We also have a coffee roaster, which roasts for ourselves, and also for other cafes. And then we have our training wing where we train people wanting to make coffee better at home or enter the industry,” Daniel says.
The assistance of RSL Queensland was a key ingredient to making the business a success. “It's pretty much integral that RSL advocates helped me to get those claims done. Without getting the claims accepted I don't think I would actually be doing what I'm doing now,” he explains. “It really enabled us to be able to kick start a business in terms of having some financial freedom in order to put money into the business to be able to grow it.” First Fruits Coffee is now expanding further, with cafes and a roastery opening in Tokyo, Japan in late 2019.
Daniel hopes other ex-service members take up the assistance available. “I can see with a lot of my friends there's a sense of helplessness that they don't really know how to do the claims. And I think that was a good thing that I can direct them to RSL to be able to help them through it,” Daniel says. “Prior to having experienced RSL Queensland, I think that it got lumped into the same category as another government organization that soldiers are pretty frustrated at when it's really not that.
“I got an opportunity to speak at the North Gold Coast RSL Sub Branch recently and I was really blown away by how much the members actually wanted to reach out and help younger veterans. “I think RSL Queensland is really there to help us veterans, regardless of our age, move into civilian life a lot better.”