Having given so much, our veterans deserve to feel included, supported and valued when they return to civilian life. Sadly, this is not always the case.
Dr Sharon Mascall-Dare, Founder of StoryRight and MindRight
Recognising that many service members feel unsupported and unprepared for life beyond the military, Dr Sharon Mascall-Dare, together with a number of her fellow veterans and colleagues, founded StoryRight and MindRight – support programs to empower veterans in their transition to life after service.
These programs are now offered through THRF Group charity Military & Emergency Services Health Australia and are crucial to ensuring our veterans can overcome new challenges in the civilian world.
Someone who knows just how vital StoryRight and MindRight are, is Curtis – a former serving member of the Royal Australian Navy.
“After serving in the British Royal Navy, and the Royal Australian Navy for a total of thirty years, I had a real fear of not being understood in the civilian world,” Curtis says.
Curtis has a successful Naval career behind him, including operational service on submarines and surface ships. He’s also served on the ground in Afghanistan, helping to provide much needed medical support to injured troops.
Having come under fire a number of times, lost friends and mentors and faced long-term mental health challenges due to service experience, Curtis has shown incredible leadership and personal strength.
There’s no doubt that Curtis’ personal qualities, skills and experiences are invaluable in the civilian world, beyond the military.
But Curtis is not alone in finding the transition tough. Like many other veterans who’ve given so much, he’s found it challenging to understand his place in the civilian world.
As you may know, the mental shift from military to civilian life comes with many challenges that can make identifying and communicating your transferable skills extremely difficult.
As Curtis says, “When I applied for jobs that I knew I would be perfect for, it was hard to take it when I didn’t even get an interview.”
Veteran unemployment can lead to feelings of social isolation, rejection, self-doubt and a dangerous spiral of potential mental health repercussions. Our veterans are missing out on opportunities because their skills are misunderstood and undervalued in the civilian world.
StoryRight and MindRight are unique programs in that they are veteran-led, and aim to not only equip veterans with the skills and confidence to tackle new obstacles, but also to challenge stigma in the wider community.
StoryRight helps people to tell their ‘story’ of military experience in ways that are ‘right’ for civilian employers and with renewed self-confidence.
And it works! Our research shows that 8 out of 10 people who attend our workshops have secured a job or study opportunity within six months of working with us.
Importantly, StoryRight is also about contributing to change in the national narrative so that veterans are seen as individuals, with experiences, skills and capabilities that have value in wider society as well as the military.
MindRight assists with the emotional and identity side of transition. It provides tools to successfully undertake the mindset shift from serving military member to civilian.
As you may know, the military has strong focus on teamwork and it’s often difficult for veterans to recognise that they count as an individual, that they have unique and personal value.
Just recognising that value is often transformative, which is why these support programs are so vital!
Our StoryRight and MindRight programs helped Curtis with his transition from military to civilian life.
Curtis has completed both programs and says, “StoryRight and MindRight provided the turning point I was looking for.”
“StoryRight helped me pick out the issues in my job applications and how I wasn’t selling myself well enough, while MindRight gave me self-belief in the civilian world.”
“After all I have done in my career, I still had feelings of crushing self-doubt. MindRight helped me fully understand my own value,” Curtis says.
Like MESHA’s other programs, StoryRight and MindRight make a real and tangible difference to veterans’ lives.
Curtis says, “Like many other veterans leaving the defence force, I’ve struggled psychologically with a loss of identity and have felt isolated. Now, I feel I’m on the right track and my mental health has never been better.”
Moving forward, we hope to reach many more veterans like Curtis by expanding to online workshop delivery and a wider network of facilitators who are, themselves, veterans.
Your support is helping Australia’s veterans successfully transition from military to civilian life and ensuring they get a ‘fair go’ after giving so much. Thank you!