'Challenging time': Veterans struggling to cope at Christmas
CHRISTMAS is time for giving, sharing and bringing the family together.
But for some of Australia's most vulnerable people - veterans and former service personnel - the festive period can trigger "feelings of loss, loneliness and anxiety".
That's the warning from RSL Queensland after an influx of calls from veterans and their families seeking advice and assistance.
RSL Queensland state president Stewart Cameron CSC said nearly 200 people over the past month have contacted the organisation's Client Contact Centre.
"Christmas can be a really challenging time for veterans and their families," Mr Cameron said.
"Apart from balancing the budget with the extra expenses of presents, food, parties and more, it can also be stressful to meet the expectations of family and friends.
"While it's a festive season for many of us, it can trigger feelings of loss, loneliness and anxiety amongst our current and former service personnel."
Mr Cameron said people were struggling with a multitude of problems and the effects were being felt across the age spectrum.
"More than half of the people who contacted RSL Queensland in the past year were under the age of 50," he said.
"We also have a large community of older veterans and families of former and current service personnel.
"A significant portion of calls were about welfare assistance, especially financial assistance.
"This includes homelessness, employment and covering the current high cost of utilities."
However, even more significantly, Mr Cameron said for every cry for help there was a voice that stayed silent.
But he urged any veteran struggling to pick up the phone and make that first step.
"Many people who have served are reluctant to ask for help - they see it as a weakness or failure of some sort," he said.
"But the military community is a family and RSL Queensland exists to support and enrich the lives of veterans and their loved ones, so I urge anyone in our extended family to pick up the phone to us if they would like a hand."
Veterans and families seeking assistance can call Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service on 1800 011 046 and The Salvation Army on 07 3173 6458 for emergency accommodation.
RSL Queensland can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.