Rob Skoda, an ex-Flight Lieutenant in Ground Force Defence, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), enlisted at 20 years old and served for 12 years. Rob, originally from Western Australia, now lives on the Gold Coast with his wife and two children and joined RSL (Queensland Branch) earlier this year, as Veteran Services Manager. This is Rob’s story of his time in service and aspirations on how the RSL strives to continue providing the best support to our veterans and their families.
Where it all began
In 2000, Rob enlisted as an Officer Cadet at the Australian Defence Force Academy. He then went on to specialise in Ground Defence and graduated as a Flying Officer from the Royal Military College, Duntroon in 2004. Rob was posted to No. 3 and then No. 2 Airfield Defence Squadron at RAAF Base Amberley in Queensland. Rob went on to act as a Rifle Flight Commander, leading teams to secure airfields for operations.
Life as a Ground Defence Officer
Rob worked up the ranks to Flight Lieutenant and served in several overseas operations,
Image Source: Rob Skoda
including deployments to the Middle East, a humanitarian deployment in Pakistan and assistance work in Papua New Guinea. In 2006, Rob took a team of 64 into Timor-Leste on the first night of Australia’s commitment to help restore the island nation’s confidence, peace and security.
“I remember when we were in Timor-Leste, there was a group of teenagers huddled together and praying. I will never forget seeing something that peaceful right in the middle of the chaos.”
In 2010, Rob led the Force Protection team in Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), a NATO-led security mission established by the United Nations Security Council.
In 2012, Rob discharged from the Air Force. In reflecting on his time in service, Rob explains, “I miss the good times… the challenge and excitement, knowing that you’re making a difference. But you realise that the good times were when you’re actually doing the toughest things.”
Keeping the services close
After discharging Rob moved on to new challenges, but couldn’t resist the opportunity to link back to the services and help his fellow mates. Rob joined RSL (Queensland Branch) as Veteran Services Manager in May 2015.
In explaining what he loves about the RSL, Rob shares, “There is so much value in what we do for veterans and their families. We support clients with complex issues - from processing claims, helping them to find employment, helping them manage financial concerns. We’re a place where you can actually deliver the organisation’s aspirations and really help people as a result.”
What’s next for Veteran Services?
With the year coming to a close, it’s an exciting time to see what’s in store for 2017. Rob shares a sneak peek on two areas of focus for the year ahead. The RSL will partner with aligned organisations to reduce homelessness amongst our veterans and their families. The RSL will also be focusing on programs that help veterans to build resilience and a solid future for their family, including working with financial services. Rob explains, “The ultimate goal is to help veterans and their families, so they have an opportunity to lead proud and independent lives.”
“There is no need too small”
In Rob’s words, “We have a really good mission and the team is 100% aligned to it. For our Veteran Services Officers (VSOs), their day is focused on helping veterans with their claims and their welfare. There is no need too small, they will always go the extra mile to help our veterans.”
An integral part of RSL’s mission is to employ people who are able to truly understand what it means to be a veteran and empathise with their needs. Rob is a perfect example, with his own personal service experience, he is able to relate to fellow veterans and work with his team, the VSOs, to ensure that services are aligned to the needs of the military community.