Veteran Peer Support Officers Jan Prest, Bob Marmion, Peter Calloway and John Stubbs gathered in Geelong on Friday for an exchange of ideas to improve proficiency when assisting Veterans and to relax and enjoy each other’s company. VPSO’s are volunteer police veterans who are committed to helping their former colleagues – there are about 60 and the need is growing every day.
Peer support is much more than a mental health support service, it’s sharing similar experiences, it’s listening and reminiscing with veterans. When a veteran leaves the force there is a sense of social isolation that only other veterans understand. It’s difficult to find someone to confide in, even within their own families. Good and bad experiences, personal issues and relived trauma can be discussed in confidence with our VPSO’s because in most cases they have lived the same experiences or know someone who has. Sometimes a problem shared is a problem halved.
Some veterans can be suspicious because of previous unsatisfactory experiences and are reluctant to trust. ‘What’s the catch?’ is a common presumption.
There’s no catch – we are a completely independent and self-funded organisation.
Police Veterans Victoria is growing fast with limited recourses and if it wasn’t for volunteers, we would not exist. Hopefully, Government will respond to requests for funding but in the meantime, we look after each other.