International Day of Friendship
As we celebrate International Day of Friendship on 30 July, Open Arms acknowledges the important role friends play in supporting our health and wellbeing.
It’s been shown that people who are strongly connected to their social networks are physically healthier, more resilient and live longer. Connecting with friends can help you:
- feel understood and cared for
- feel that you are not alone
- build confidence
- handle problems more easily
- access advice when facing difficult situations
Relationships in the military community often go beyond what’s typical in other working environments. The experience of transitioning from military service to civilian life can include significant changes to friendships and social connections for both the veterans and their families.
Transition can sometimes be accompanied by feelings of isolation or loss from leaving an environment of strong mateship and camaraderie.
When establishing a new life outside of the Australian Defence Force (ADF), it can help to balance the maintenance of:
- positive connections with existing military social networks, and
- the building of new social networks and supports
The Open Arms social connections tool helps to identify friends and other people in your life who can offer different kinds of support.
Connecting with people through enjoyable and rewarding activities is a great way to meet new friends. Options for meeting like-minded people include:
- ENGAGE – an online community for current, transitioning, and former ADF members, and their families
- Soldier On - building meaningful networks of support from the community and other Defence families
- Mates4Mates - running regular bbqs, coffee catchups, creative arts, cooking groups and school holiday programs
- Men’s Shed – providing a mateship environment to work on your own or community project
Volunteering is another way to connect. Find volunteer opportunities at www.GoVolunteer.com.au or look for organisations led by veterans, including:
- Disaster Relief Australia (DRA) - serving communities devastated by natural disaster. DRA recognises that ‘veterans hold a unique and valuable skill set. Australian veterans are a national asset, and DRA seeks to showcase that to the world’
- Veteran Sport Australia (VSA) - enduring organisation of the Invictus Games Sydney. VSA connects Australian veterans and their families with sporting opportunities to support health and wellbeing
- Legacy - supporting the partners and children of those who gave their lives or their health for our country. Legacy provides 'the essential social, financial and developmental support that these families depend on each day’
Learning new skills or upgrading qualifications are good ways to find people with similar interests and develop new friendships.
To offer your support to a friend, learn how to have #Check5 and other difficult conversations.
Friends also receive free access to LivingWorks Start, a one-hour online program that teaches participants how to recognise when someone is thinking about suicide and how to connect them to professional help and support.
Open Arms offers free and confidential counselling to serving personnel, ex-serving ADF personnel, and their families. We also offer a range of other services including peer support, group programs and self-help tools. For more information, call 1800 011 046.