2015 Annual Grants Program Winner:
In December 2015, we were thrilled to award grants to sixteen Catholic parish ministries and grassroots initiatives. All of these worthy groups undertake exciting work throughout the Archdiocese. One of the recipients, Deacon Gary Stone founder of Veterans Care Association, was overjoyed to receive a grant:
Deacon Gary Stone formed Veterans Care Association in July 2014, recognising that many veterans had little access to resources by way of spiritual, emotional and pastoral support. It’s a shocking, whispered truth about our modern military – far more of our veterans take their own lives after returning home than are killed during overseas operations.
As chaplain to the ex-service community in the Archdiocese of Brisbane, Deacon Stone was all too aware of this – he describes a typical encounter:
“During the week a veteran came to visit me. I could sense that he was depressed and I knew that he had recently suffered the breakup of his second marriage. He started telling me how he was getting all of his things in order. He had packed all his possessions away in boxes. He had made it financial plan for his children’s future and he was getting ready to check out. Only when he used those words did I realise then that he was making plans to take his own life…”
Fortunately, this young man received the help he needed then and continues to receive pastoral care from Deacon Stone and his Veterans Care staff. This is just one example of how your gift impacts people’s lives.
In applying for a grant, Deacon Stone discussed the need to provide evangelising resources for some of the 100,000 ex-service men and women living in the Archdiocese. The majority of returned injured or ill veterans are young people with young families. Veterans Care focuses on addressing the needs of this worthy demographic.
In the last 12 months, the Association has provided educational awareness presentations on veteran’s health to over 1500 veterans and their families, as well as professional pastoral care advice to 780 individuals with specific needs.
The Association has five key objectives: pastoral care, welfare, education, realisation of self-responsibility and social enterprise. In order to accomplish this, the Association has employed a number of diverse strategies, including liaising with health providers and the wider community, developing resources to create awareness on issues encountered by veterans, and critically, working with Church parishes in promoting veteran’s needs and including them in local communities.
This unique organisation provides a critical service not offered elsewhere in Queensland, and closes the gap between in-service chaplain assistance and the activities of the RSL.
The Veteran’s Care Association has assembled a dedicated volunteer team of holistic practitioners including three doctors, three psychologists, an exercise physiologist, a mental health nurse, and three chaplains as well as 35 other volunteers. Working with an administrative support team, these dedicated volunteers bring their faith, individual expertise, and military experience to this worthy cause.
Participating veterans have access to a Catholic volunteer who will pray for them, care for them and offer unwavering support. It’s no wonder that studies show that veterans with access to pastoral care develop more independence and resilience in future life.
Every week Deacon Stone hears from veterans who say they have turned back to God and the Church as a result of the ministry.
The Annual Grants Program is relatively new to the Archdiocese of Brisbane – awarding grants now for only two years – but it has had tremendous impact! Thank you for all that you do to support these grants for Catholic grassroots ministries.