Supporting veteran wellbeing, healthy lifestyles, and community With the new year well underway, many of us are looking for new ways to live well and make life a little easier, particularly in challenging economic times. With this in mind, we’re once again running the weekly coffee and chat sessions on Wednesdays at the Carry on Cafe in Morwell. Held every Wednesday from 10am, these sessions are more than just a social gathering. In their simplest form, they offer an opportunity for veterans to get out of the house and enjoy a coffee and catch up with other veterans. However, the deeper value of these gatherings lies in the support for veterans dealing with the unique challenges of post civilian life. The Veteran Wellbeing Hub is hosted by Carry On Café and offers a haven where experiences and stories can be shared. The mental health benefits of these gatherings are immeasurable. Veterans often face a range of mental health challenges, including PTSD, anxiety, and depression. By engaging in these regular sessions, veterans can discuss their issues openly and without judgment. Vikki is one veteran that has benefited greatly from attending the Wednesday sessions. “Words can't express the depth of my gratitude for the life-saving support I've discovered through the veterans’ coffee morning,” she explains. “In the past year alone, this remarkable gathering has become a lifeline, breathing new life into my once-clouded mind, and revitalizing my overall wellbeing. I had reached a point where the weight of isolation and lack of purpose threatened to overwhelm me, plunging me into the depths of despair. But within the warm embrace of this dedicated community, I have discovered a newfound lease on life". Sharing stories, whether humorous or poignant, is a therapeutic exercise, alleviating the burden that can be felt when carrying these experiences alone. As they sip their coffee, the shared language of service in the defence forces creates an unspoken bond, facilitating conversations that may be difficult elsewhere. The power of companionship can also not be understated, and these sessions provide a safe space where veterans can connect with like-minded individuals. The act of meeting regularly in a supportive environment can help reduce feelings of isolation that many veterans experience. The hub becomes a community within a community, a place where individuals can find solace and understanding. The simple act of coming together becomes a powerful antidote to the loneliness that can pervade the lives of veterans adjusting to civilian life. The Veteran Wellbeing Hub also plays a crucial role in supporting veterans' practical needs. Alongside the coffee and chat sessions, the hub has food available from the Victorian Foodbank allowing veterans to pick up essential supplies. This initiative recognises that nutrition and a healthy lifestyle are also important factors of mental and emotional wellbeing, and critical to a holistic approach to caring and supporting veterans. In 2023 alone, the Veteran Foodbank initiative provided a staggering 750 nourishing meals to veterans and their families, ensuring that no one goes hungry. The Veteran Wellbeing Hub's Coffee and Chat Sessions in Morwell exemplify the profound impact that simple gestures of camaraderie can have on veterans' lives. As a social gathering, a support group, and a resource centre, the hub creates an environment where veterans feel seen, heard, and valued. In shared stories and time spent together veterans find not only friendship but also a pathway to healing and resilience. The bonds created in these Wednesday sessions have been a crucial factor to the strengthening and growth of the Morwell veteran community. The hub stands as a testament to the belief that true wellbeing is built on the foundations of community and understanding. Because every veteran matters. If you’d like to find out more about the Veteran Wellbeing Hub, the Foodbank Initiative or the Carry On Café please contact us – we are here to help.