I recently spent the day volunteering with Soldier On out on the water with their partner not for profit organisation, Maritime Warrior. I had such an incredible day and wanted to share my experience with you.
Soldier On’s mission is to work side by side with those who serve and protect Australia, and their families, helping them to secure their futures. Maritime Warrior is a unique veteran wellness and upskill project which supports a variety of charities, including Soldier On, through the use of chartered sailing vessels.
Brisbane Immigration Transit Accommodation (BITA) General Manager, Mitchell Turvey is an active supporter of Soldier On and had organised for myself to represent BITA and assist Soldier On at one of these unique sailing events, and it was an experience I won’t forget.
I was introduced to the team from Maritime Warrior at Runaway Bay Marina on the Gold Coast along with 10 other veterans from the Australian Defence Force, all with different backgrounds but one thing in common, to reconnect with other people who had served.
First, we headed to a beach nearby for an ocean swim and a chance to connect. The water was really therapeutic and you could see everyone relax, smile and let themselves be in the moment. There were no phones or devices and I think everyone enjoyed being disconnected from the world. Conversations began to flow and bonds started to form, we shared service and life stories and started to relax in each other’s company.
After morning tea, we began our education on the ship and how to sail. We practiced drills and learned about ship and water safety. The crew had a vast knowledge of the ocean and sailing, and we were all eager to learn.
We then left the Gold Coast Broadwater and headed out to sea. When we turned the engines off and set sail it was truly awe inspiring. The calming aspect of the ocean and the wind had an instant impact on everyone on board. To top it all off, a huge pod of dolphins swam by to signify the days end. We sailed next to the dolphins for over a half an hour and I don’t think anyone on board had anything on their minds except what was in front of them – no stress, no anxiety, nothing.
As the day came to an end, it was time to part ways, but it certainly wouldn’t be forever. All of us will be back again to support Soldier On and Maritime Warrior and the great work they are doing.
I encourage anyone interested in an experience like this to get involved by volunteering or donating. You can learn more about these organisations via the links below.