A lifelong dedication to sport volunteering with our veteran community – Kaye Mongan
When Kaye Mongan learned that the Invictus Games at The Hague back in 2020 had been postponed due to the global pandemic, she was very disappointed, having been selected to attend as a volunteer. Fast forward to 2023 and it won’t be long until Kaye is packing her bags to head to the Invictus Games in Dusseldorf, her application to volunteer being successful once again.
I’m so excited for Dusseldorf – meeting the other volunteers and supporting everyone where I can. I remember being in the audience at the 2018 Invictus Games in Sydney – I was blown away by the atmosphere and the achievement of what some of these guys and girls could do – it was an unbelievable experience – I knew right then that I wanted to get involved.”
The 2023 Games will not be Kaye’s first rodeo with volunteering, or her first-time supporting causes connected to the military community. As a primary school student in Queensland, she door-knocked for ANZAC and Remembrance Day collections and now based in Canberra, Kaye is the President of the local Legacy Laurel Club, which supports war widows.
“I coordinate guest speakers; we have a meeting and then lunch – twice a month. It’s important for these ladies to have time with others, a chat and connection, many of them are in their nineties and isolated. During Covid I had a list of their names, 80 or more, and rang them a few times throughout, making sure they were okay and had the support they needed.”
A war widow herself, the military life and the impacts that service can have on veterans and family members is familiar to Kaye. The military is in her DNA, with her brother, father and grandad all having served in the Army, her husband and uncle in the Navy, aunty in Army nursing, daughter in the Air Force and one of her sons having served in the Army Reserves for a decade.
“My dad was a commando – we didn’t call it PTSD when I was growing up, we just thought he was an angry old coot, but certainly there were times in my childhood when the PTSD was very evident when I look back on it. The injuries we can’t see… I’m so pleased that there is support now and that we are discussing it more openly – but there’s still more we can do to help and organisations like Invictus Australia are very important in supporting veterans and their families.”
For veterans looking to get involved in their community, volunteering with a local sports team or organisation can be especially helpful, offering opportunities to stay engaged with their community while giving back. Volunteering is shown to help veterans transition back into civilian life by providing them with purpose, a sense of belonging, and an outlet for stress relief. It can also help foster friendships and provide veterans with valuable skills they may need when entering the workforce after serving their country.
Kaye is very aware of the benefits of sport and volunteering in creating a sense of community and connection for veterans and their families. Her own children have benefited greatly over the years participating in various sports and clubs and now as adults volunteering with groups such as parkrun. While not all of Kaye’s volunteering is associated with the armed forces, much of it has been linked to sport over the years, throughout her local community.
Sports are just so important, being part of a team, giving you a focus, whether you’re actually in the team or taking part in another way – I umpired for ten years at a rowing club – whatever way you can get involved, it’s absolutely worth it.”
While Kaye sees any form of volunteering as a way of giving back to her community, she benefits on a personal level too.
Volunteering is giving me more connection, more opportunities. It has definitely enriched my life in so many ways – I’ve made friendships through my volunteering over the years, online and in person, it has been just wonderful.”
The day before heading off to the Invictus Games Dusseldorf 2023, Kaye is going to do some athletics of her own, running as a torch bearer for the Canberra leg of the Legacy Centenary Torch Relay. Kaye’s daughter has already supported the Adelaide stretch of the relay, and Kaye is looking forward to her turn, showing her support for an organisation that’s close to her heart.
There’s no doubt that Kaye is dedicated to supporting those around her and having recently turned 78 years young, she’s showing no signs of slowing down her volunteering commitments.
“I hope I can keep volunteering for another ten years. It’s in everything I do – giving back to my community. I give a lot, but I get a lot back too.”
Words by: Lisa Carlberg
About Invictus Australia: Invictus Australia encourages veterans and their families to connect and engage with their communities through sport. Whether participating or volunteering at grassroots level, to competing internationally at an Invictus or Warrior Games, Invictus Australia leverages the power of sport to proactively foster good health and aid in recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration. Invictus Australia promotes the physical, social and emotional benefits of sport for all, and shine a light on the unique needs of younger veterans, particularly the challenges associated with transitioning from military to civilian life.
About the Invictus Games: The next Invictus Games will take place from the 9th – 16th September, 2023 in Dusseldorf Germany. Invictus Australia, in partnership with the Australian Defence Force, will support 31 former and current serving competitors as part of Team Australia. The Invictus Games is an international adaptive sporting event for serving and former serving military personnel who have been wounded, injured or become ill during their military service. Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex, is the Patron of the Invictus Games. The Games uses the healing power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and celebrate the crucial role played by family and friends.