2021 Open Arms Holiday Message

This year has been challenging for many of us, and especially for some in our veteran community.  On top of personal challenges, the release of the Brereton Report, announcement of a Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicides, the withdrawal from Afghanistan, and COVID-19 have left many in the veteran community unsettled.

Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling has seen more veterans and their family members reach out to seek support this year than any time in its nearly 40 year history.

With this increase in demand, the range of services Open Arms offers has also increased. Whilst phone and face-to-face counselling are an integral part of how our service supports veterans and families, there are a number of other support options available.

Peer Support, Care Coordination, Crisis Accommodation Support, Psycho-education Workshops, Group Treatment Programs, and online tools are all available for people interested in different types of support.

One of these supports, the Open Arms Community and Peer Program, celebrated its second anniversary in November. The Program matches veterans and their family members with people who have their own lived experiences of military service or Defence family life, and the mental health service system.

Open Arms National Manager, Dr Grant Pegg said “Peer Workers work to support a holistic roadmap for recovery driven by the individual needs of the veteran or family member.”

“It might be about catching up for a coffee and a chat, or it could be helping someone weigh up their options for clinical support.”

Since the Program’s establishment in 2019, the number of Open Arms Peers supporting veterans and their family members has nearly doubled. 

“If you have served just one day in the ADF, or are the family member of someone who has, contact Open Arms to find out which one of our programs is most suitable for you. If you know someone that might be struggling, reach out and let them know that support is available. ” Dr Pegg said.

With a difficult year coming to an end and the holiday season fast approaching, some in the veteran community may be facing challenging feelings. A number of factors can emphasise these emotions.  These might include being posted somewhere away from family and friends, coping with mental distress, or missing a loved one.

“We understand it’s been a difficult year and know the holiday period can be a hard time for veterans, especially those who have recently transitioned,” said Dr Pegg. “Don’t forget that Open Arms is available for veterans and families right throughout this holiday time.”

You can contact Open Arms 24/7, 365 days a year by calling 1800 011 046.

Information on the peer program is available here.