Veterans Helping Veterans

During the 2019 Resilience Luncheon, organised by Dee Why RSL, Dee Why RSL sub-Branch decided that they wanted to aid to the expansion of the Veterans Centre Sydney Northern Beaches (VCSNB) by employing a full-time Claims Advisor for the Centre – Craig Horner.

Conveying the sentiment of veterans helping veterans, President of the sub-Branch, Alan Wright, says of the addition to the Veterans Centre, “We are proud to assist the VCSNB where Craig will be seconded as a Claims Advisor and we look forward to our continuing association with the Veterans Centre.”

As Craig steps into his new role, we took a moment to get to know a little about his journey.

Can you tell us about your journey and how you came to be the Claims Advisor at the VCSNB? 

I am originally from country NSW so coming to Sydney was a new start. I have a background in finance and insurance but really wanted to give back to the community.

Being part of a fourth-generation military family, I have an understanding of the effect service has on the family. I found out about the VCSNB a couple of years ago and completed a well-being course through the Centre so I jumped at the chance to apply when this position became available.

What exactly is a Claims Advisor?

A Claims Adviser is a specialist in military legislation, ensuring legislative compliance timeframes are met in conjunction with an ongoing review of medical, investigative and rehabilitation reports.

A Claims Advisor has an excellent service delivery, completes military legislation related client work, and advises/assists other paid and volunteer staff on appropriate actions dependent on the client’s situation.

What is the process a Claims Advisor needs to take in submitting a claim?

Currently, the claims process can be very lengthy or as short as a few months depending on the complexity of the claim. Significant improvements have been made through the Veterans Centric Reform, allowing claims to be submitted online with minimal paperwork. In saying this, I would still caution those submitting claims this way to have their work checked by an advocate first.

Describe a day in the life of a Veterans Centre employee.

Being a small not-for-profit organisation we make a little go a long way. We deal with many families in significant distress – chronic physical and psychological health, addictions,

financial hardship, relationship breakdowns, homelessness and suicidality.

As you can imagine, constantly working with people in such a state of distress can take a toll, however, the VCSNB is a supportive and professional team.

How do you see Dee Why sub-Branch and Dee Why RSL’s support of the VCSNB affecting the veteran community?

Through Dee Why RSL sub-Branch we can access the RSL network, social events and commemorative events. This allows veterans to become part of a community and share their stories with other veterans, as well as attending social events organised by the sub-Branch.

Through Dee Why RSL we have an office to work from and ongoing marketing, finance and IT support. We will receive over $400,000 in support this financial year from the Club directly. The Club also organises the Resilience Luncheon and VC month each April and the funds raised at these two events are donated directly to the Centre.

The direct result of this support is evident in our clients who now manage their conditions and are living a life meaningful to them.

What are some of the most rewarding experiences that stand out to you since becoming the VCSNB Claims Advisor? 

The most rewarding experiences for me are seeing the transformation of a veteran and their family once the pressure and stress of dealing with a claim is removed.

What do you think makes the VCSNB unique?

We ensure current and former servicemen, women, and their families have the opportunity for growth through our accessible support. Our Centre caters for not only veterans, but also enlisted personnel who are looking at transitioning from the defence force and their families, allowing a holistic approach.

We have a social welfare team, as well as veterans who work for the Centre, and a volunteer staff base that gives us a huge array of knowledge, expertise and understanding of veterans and the Department of Veterans Affairs database.

We have many referral networks and contacts through Ex-Service Organisations and this allows us to help a veteran find and source exactly the correct support they need with innovate methods and holistic wellbeing support.

What impact do you think the Veterans Centre has on the community?

The Veterans Centre has an amazing impact on the community. Our mission is to help veterans while also creating a network of long-standing friendships and providing families and children with an understanding of what it is like to serve your country.

With the help of Dee Why RSL, our annual Resilience Luncheon raises critical funds for the Centre, while symposiums we are involved with, such as the Break Down the Barriers, focuses on mental health. Both of which create awareness in the community.

The Veterans Centre also bridges the gap for those medically discharging from the Australian Defence Force, or those in hospital, and the integrating back into their general community.

Providing support so these individuals and families are able to take charge of their recovery and become contributing members of society – through volunteering, employment or being a support to their loved ones.

What would you say to anyone hoping to get involved with helping our veteran community? 

I would say to anyone looking at volunteering at our Centre to check out the volunteer page on our website. If what you read appeals, submit an expression of interest and the team will get in contact with you directly.

Take that step and really feel proud for what you are able to offer our community of veterans.

To find out more about how you can contribute to the Veterans Centre’s amazing work, head to vcsnb.org.au