What $24,000 of funding will do for Wide Bay veteran groups
A FORMER soldier who assists returned servicemen in recovering from post-traumatic stress disorder will be able to make major improvements to his veterans retreat because of a Federal Government grant.
The Camp Gregory Veterans Retreat, a 40-acre property between Hervey Bay and Bundaberg was built to to assist ex-serviceman on the road to recovery, yesterday the retreat received $20,886.60 from the Federal Government's Veterans and Community Grants program.
The funding will allow president Roger Dwyer to build a ramp for disability access to the retreat's bathrooms and purchase a defibrillator.
Mr Dwyer, a Vietnam veteran who served from 1968-1970, said the retreat was a place of respite for returned soldiers and their families.
He said he was inspired to start the retreat based on his own experiences of PTSD from fighting the Viet Cong in Nui Dat.
"The memories come back every night... in most cases, they're the nightmare-type memories where we were involved in skirmishes," Mr Dwyer told the Chronicle.
"It's the same with all veterans, it never ever leaves you.
"We had to walk along tracks through the jungle, forever alert with landmines and booby traps".
But Mr Dwyer's disgust with the treatment of returned serviceman grew after he was discharged from the military when he returned to Australia in 1970.
"The previous week we were walking through the jungle in Vietnam with rifles in hand, and within one week we were discharged with a pat on the back, saying 'You all right soldier?'," he said.
"I recall vividly, a young woman came up towards a group of us and spat on us, called us baby killers.
"We had no idea of the animosity that was created against us."
Mr Dwyer said the retreat was designed to help former soldiers suffering from PTSD by letting them interact through conversation, social interaction, barbecues, fishing, crabbing and other recreational activities.
He said the program funding would go a long way to helping ensure the program continues.
The Veterans of Australia Association, based in Hervey Bay, also received $4,863.10 to develop a monthly newsletter in the same grant.