Not having a likeminded mate to talk to was the hardest part of civilian life for Rob Lee when he left the Australian Army after 15 years of service.
The former Corporal, who had completed two tours of duty to East Timor, one tour to Iraq and a tour to Afghanistan with the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, found he could no longer connect with his mates from home.
The 34-year-old also found the age gap between himself and veterans who socialised at the RSL difficult to bridge.
In a bid to help other returned servicemen and women facing these issues, Rob was instrumental in bringing a branch of Mates4Mates to Cairns and has become the local volunteer liaison officer while working at the 51st Battalion in Cairns.
“Mates4Mates supports current and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members, and their immediate families, who have suffered physical or psychological wounds, injuries or illnesses because of their service,” he said.
“These men and women often go from having a very structured life, surrounded by likeminded people with similar experiences, to a new environment where people may not understand their experience.
“I want these people to avoid the struggles I had by being able to connect with other veterans in a relaxed environment.
“After just two months of operation in Cairns, Mates4Mates has 50 members and is growing day by day with our first adventure event a Great Barrier Reef trip on Passions of Paradise on November 12.
“Passions of Paradise has kindly offered to help us out by providing a group of veterans a day out socialising on the Great Barrier Reef.
“Other Cairns Mates4Mates activities include social gatherings at local cafes and we will soon have an equine therapy course.”
To join Mates4 Mates in Cairns contact Rob Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on 4047 6501 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.