An opportunity to make a true difference - Sarah's story
While most people end up in veterans’ support due to a personal connection to the veteran community – a serving family member or friend, for example – Sarah says people from any background can thrive in the role, as long as they have a desire to genuinely connect with people.
“You know you’ve made a difference for someone,” she says. “You’ve brought a positive light into their day and allowed them to be heard.”
Sarah is a counsellor with an organisation providing care and support services to serving and ex-serving veterans and their families. She has a Graduate Diploma in Psychology and a Bachelor of Behavioural Studies in Psychology, qualifications which she received prior to joining the care and support sector.
In her current role, Sarah works with serving and former Australian Defence Force members, giving them the support they need to successfully transition back into civilian life. She also supports their families, as this transition affects them too.
Sarah entered veterans’ support after working with a disability employment provider. After a stint supporting veterans and their family members with education and employment opportunities, she transferred to her organisation’s wellbeing team.
“I love working with veterans every day,” she says. “I feel privileged to do the job I do and work with such a great team, where everyone is passionate about the support they provide.”
Her day-to-day work is varied and fulfilling. Right now, she is co-facilitating a parenting program for veterans and their families and helping to build future programs. Remote working has provided greater reach, allowing a wider range of people to access the service, regardless of where they are.
While Sarah grew up in a military town and trained in the Navy herself, it was her time as a military spouse that most clearly fuelled her passion for veterans’ support.
“My husband served for 15 years. I saw the struggles serving members go through with their families and wanted to provide support from the point of view of understanding where people are coming from,” she says.
Sarah and her family moved at least every two years while her husband served, which meant starting over repeatedly, finding new jobs and new support networks.
Through her work and personal experience, Sarah has come to understand the special bond that exists within the military, and how hard it can be for serving members when their friends and fellows leave the service.
“They live, train and work together. To leave and transition to civilian life can be dramatic. For some serving members, they never really feel like they can settle.”
Sarah eases that transition by providing support that’s tailored to the person. She supports some people with employment assistance, or helps them navigate the education system. Others, she connects to community support or helps connect them back into a network they’re now unfamiliar with.
Sarah finds her work truly meaningful and is grateful to have the opportunity to support the veteran community in her role.