Cycling in support of veterans injured during service

Army veteran Tara Fitness is cycling from Maitland to her hometown of Dungog this weekend to raise funds and awareness for veterans injured during service.

Tara has joined the Bravery Trek challenge as a way of giving back to the veteran community for support she received at a crucial time and will cycle from her current hometown of Maitland to her childhood home of Dungog.

Bravery Trek is a virtual challenge held annually during Veterans’ Health Week whereby participants, run, walk, wheel, cycle or paddle 57km in a month to raise funds and awareness for veterans injured during service. Funds raised support the work of military charity Bravery Trust to provide financial aid to veterans injured during service and their families.

Tara said Bravery Trek was a way for her to “pay it forward” and assist fellow veterans when faced with though times.

“I found myself in a tough spot. My partner and I had just bought a house, so our savings accounts were dead empty when, just days before our first mortgage payment was due, I suddenly found my income reduced by $500 per fortnight. That $500 we’d factored into the budget was money to put food on the table and keep the lights on. In an instant, it was gone, as was any chance of pulling together enough cash to pay my car rego and some other household bills,” she said.

“Someone suggested I call Bravery Trust, so despite feeling overwhelmingly ashamed to do so, I picked up the phone. On the other end of the line was a group of people so kind, caring and supportive who just wanted to help, and help they did. The support from Bravery Trust got us through a tough time so we were able to rebuild our financial security, despite the loss of income.

“The day I received help from Bravery Trust, I told myself I would pay it back tenfold. Well, I haven’t quite reached tenfold yet, but it is in the works. In the meantime, I’ve made a commitment to do all I can for this incredible organisation, so I can pay it forward to other veterans who also need the help I received.”

Bravery Trust CEO Belinda Wilson said the community support shown for veterans injured during service through Bravery Trek was overwhelming.

“We have met some incredible volunteers, like Tara – people who are willing to donate their time and energies to raising funds and awareness of the support we provide, and the challenges faced by veterans after discharge.

“70% of those who reach out to Bravery Trust are aged 50 years or younger. Most report both physical and mental injuries as a result of their service.

“The number of ADF members discharging for medial reasons has increased significantly over the past decade. The Interim Report of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide reports a higher risk of suicide for ex-serving males who separate for medical or other involuntary reasons; and a higher risk among ex-serving males with lower incomes.

“For what our ADF veterans have done and the sacrifices they have made, it’s everyone’s responsibility – as a nation and as Australians – to support those veterans injured during service when they need a hand up.”

If you can’t join Bravery Trek yourself donate to Tara’s Trek at https://braverytrek.com.au/introvertagency

Any veterans injured, or has sustained illness during service, or family members can contact Bravery Trust via email ask@braverytrust.rog.au or by phone 1800 BRAVERY (1800 272 837)

Bravery Trust is a registered business name of the Australian Defence Force Assistance Trust, a nationally registered charity.