No need for veterans to be home alone on Christmas Day 2020

Christmas cheer: Orphans Christmas Day for veterans organisers Mick Brownlow, Jess Leonard, Margaret Wallis and John Betts promote the Christmas Day gathering. Photo: Supplied
Christmas cheer: Orphans Christmas Day for veterans organisers Mick Brownlow, Jess Leonard, Margaret Wallis and John Betts promote the Christmas Day gathering. Photo: Supplied

There is no need for veterans to stay home alone on Christmas Day.

Wauchope RSL sub-Branch and Veterans First Australia are hosting an "orphans Christmas" for veterans.

Wauchope RSL sub-Branch president Mick Brownlow said they wanted to give veterans who had experienced social isolation during the pandemic the opportunity to come together, without judgment or expectation, as a group on Christmas Day.

He said the gathering would be in the spirit of camaraderie and mateship.

"If you have served in uniform, you've served your country and you're considered a veteran," Mr Brownlow said.

The orphans Christmas for veterans is at Wauchope Rotary Youth Hall in Oxley Lane from 10am to 3pm on December 25.

Simply reserve your place, bring along a plate to share and enjoy the like-minded company.

Mr Browlow said there were veterans who moved here to get away from the big cities.

"On Christmas Day when you would normally be with family or friends, there are those that don't because they can't," he said.

"They [veterans] don't need to be alone."

The year 2020 has been tough for all, especially with limitations placed on how various groups can deliver their usual support programs.

Veterans have been especially affected.

Veterans First Australia advocate and welfare officer for the Wauchope RSL sub-branch Jess Leonard said: "Now more than ever, we need to support each other and remember it's OK not to be OK.

"I encourage veterans to reach out this Christmas.

"There are so many that care and want to help you - you just have to reach out."

The Christmas Day event is capped at 40 to comply with COVID-19 requirements but is under review in line with the current easing of restrictions.

The year has also proved difficult for the RSL sub-branch to support its members and veterans with its planned "back to basics" support that Mr Brownlow envisioned when he took on the presidency in February.

"I'd like us as an organisation to make better connections with each other through the same camaraderie that we experienced when we were active members of the respective services," he said.

"No one truly understands the pressures we were under during deployments than other veterans.

"When we return to civilian life, it can take a huge adjustment to reconcile the expectations that were once placed upon us - and some find that really difficult."

Local veterans or their families seeking assistance are encouraged to contact either Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Jess Leonard, Veterans First Australia advocate on 0437 810 806.

This story No need for veterans to be home alone on Christmas Day first appeared on Camden Haven Courier.