Veterans, serving members, transitioning members and their families are encouraged to come together over a coffee at the Wounded Heroes Veterans Lounge in Brisbane.
Honorary Patron of Wounded Heroes Australia, Chief of Joint Operations Lieutenant General Greg Bilton, and the charity’s founder, Jim Shapcott, cut the ribbon to open the facility in Alderley in March.
Lieutenant General Bilton said the lounge was a place serving members, veterans and their families could go to for company, friendship or support if they found themselves in difficulty.
“It really is a place of connectedness – for linking people up, helping establish themselves in a new locality, or to seek support,” he said.
“We don’t judge or ask questions; we just want to help people, and we’ve got a wonderful group of volunteers who are dedicated to doing exactly that.”
Wounded Heroes president Martin Shaw said the lounge, located close to Gallipoli Barracks, was specifically designed as a gambling-free and alcohol-free place to make social connections.
“We’re trying to achieve a community and a safe place for veterans and their families, without the noise of poker machines and alcohol,” Mr Shaw said.
As well as providing companionship and a welcome to the Brisbane area, the facility has computers and printers, Wi-Fi, a children’s area, and free coffee.
Wounded Heroes is a national community organisation which was established in 2007 to support Australian servicemen and women and their families, and to ease the financial, emotional and personal hardships of military life, with the provision of short-term emergency relief payment to individuals and their families.
Lieutenant General Bilton said the association helped him significantly in establishing the soldier recovery centre at the barracks in 2012 when he was commander of 7 Brigade.
“Wounded Heroes was the first from outside Defence to pledge a commitment, which kicked off a number of associations offering their help, and we were able to convert a dilapidated gymnasium into a state-of-the-art recovery centre,” he said.
Mr Shaw said the priority for Wounded Heroes over the past 14 years was to get veterans and families who were homeless or in financial crisis back on their feet.
“Then we go out to other agencies for the longer-term benefits,” Mr Shaw said.
More information about Wounded Heroes can be found at: www.woundedheroes.org.au