Compassion, resilience and support
The past year has presented many challenges for our veteran community—leaving some feeling anxious and unsure about what the new year will bring.
The bushfires, coronavirus pandemic, and recent release of the IGADF Afghanistan report have all impacted our lives in some way, and Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling has seen a 35% increase in counselling sessions across the country.
Service in the ADF brings a unique set of challenges—both for those who serve and for those who support them. It also brings opportunities to learn first-hand the importance of resilience, mateship and compassion, and other skills we can use to strengthen our own wellbeing and to assist others in times of uncertainty. Showing compassion for yourself is just as important as it is towards others.
The foundation skills for living well are:
- staying connected to friends, family and community
- using exercise as a quick and effective way to distract yourself from negative thoughts and manage emotions
- sleeping well
- eating well
While you are establishing or recalibrating these areas of your life you can also try:
- getting your information from reliable sources
- balancing your exposure to media
- calming your emotions with our self-help tools
- practicing kindness and gratitude
Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is associated with better sleep, physical and mental health, self-esteem and resilience. It is also associated with increased empathy, decreased aggression, and building stronger relationships.
Setting aside a time and place to deliberately think of what you are thankful for is important. Doing this with others allows you to inspire and be inspired by them.
Friends and family can be a great source of support, but sometimes we are better served by that extra help from outside your usual circle. We encourage anyone who may be, or may become, affected by the IGADF report to reach out for support.
If you need some extra support or someone to chat with call us 24/7 on 1800 011 046. We are here to help.
We also host Safe Zone Support, which offers anonymous and free support with specialised counsellors who have an understanding of military culture. They’re here to listen and help on 1800 142 072. Safe Zone Support is available 24/7 and calls are not recorded.
Additional support information, including access to mental health, medical, legal, pastoral and social work services, is listed on the DVA website at Inspector-General ADF Afghanistan Inquiry.
Throughout all these challenges, the Defence qualities of loyalty, resilience, teamwork, leadership, personal integrity, sacrifice and respect remain.
And it is important to know, the Australian community remains very grateful for your service.
We are stronger, together.