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Veterans encouraged to get active

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Veteran Sport Australia has launched an initiative to encourage veterans from across the country to get active at their local parkrun in support of mental health.

The official launch took place at Lake Mac parkrun in Booragul on Saturday, where runners were joined by Lake Macquarie Independent MP Greg Piper, Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser and Veteran Sport Australia Engagement Specialist Rachel Kerrigan as they completed the free five-kilometre community activity.

Former military vehicles were also on display on the day, while Toronto Men’s Shed treated guests to a barbecue.

The initiative marked the first day of Veterans Health Week, organised by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

This year’s theme is mental wellness.

Veteran Sport Australia General Manager Michael Hartung said the impact of veterans and their families getting involved in sport and recreation was powerful and transformative.

“We saw this with the Invictus Games last year and celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Sydney Games on the first day of Veterans’ Health Week is perfect timing,” he said.
“Encouraging all veterans and their families to get involved in their local parkrun and join our Veteran Sport Australia parkrun running club is a great way of continuing that legacy.

“At Veteran Sport Australia, we strive to make it easy for all veterans and their families right across Australia to utilise the power of sport for their wellbeing.”

There are about 640,000 veterans in Australia, with up to 6,000 servicemen and women transitioning out of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) every year, 18% of whom do so for medical reasons.

A study using data from 2015 estimated that 46% of ADF members who have transitioned from full-time service within the past five years met 12-month diagnostic criteria for a mental health disorder.

Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser said there was no doubt physical activity and mental health went hand in hand.

“We’ve got a fantastic veteran community in Lake Macquarie and this great event that everyone can get involved in,” she said.
“Hopefully this is just the start of a strong relationship with Veteran Sport Australia in our area.”

Following the event, Veteran Sport Australia urged veterans and their families to get along to their local parkrun every week and build ongoing relationships with their communities.

Veteran Sport Australia was established by the RSL as a legacy of the Invictus Games Sydney 2018.

Go to veteransport.org.au for more information.

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