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The Impact of Invictus Australia’s Local Engagement: Moments of triumph and inspiration

Across Australia, our dedicated team of Veteran Engagement Managers are constantly working to weave a powerful narrative – one of the importance of community sport in a veteran’s rehabilitation and wellbeing journey.  

This team, either family members of or veterans themselves, are established within their local Defence communities, fostering connections and witnessing incredible personal victories blossom for the veterans they support through local sport.  

After a busy summer period, we asked the team to reflect on the past three months and share a triumph or inspirational win. The variety of these answers demonstrates perfectly the breadth of this team’s work, whose positive impact on veterans and family members spans far beyond the events they facilitate.

victoria – chris

For Chris, our Veteran Engagement Manager in Victoria, witnessing the individual impact on those who attend the community sporting events he facilitates is where he gains the most fulfillment. 

“A recent come and try day with only a small group of attendees turned out to be a highlight for me. One woman attended just to say hello, however once we got chatting, I identified that she was currently going through a tough time and needed someone to talk to.  I was able to put her in touch with another Ex-service organisation, Soldier On, and we were both able to collaborate to improve her situation. The other members present heard her story and offered support however they could to help her out. 

To begin with, I thought that only a small group of the defence community attending was a let down. However, I soon witnessed the camaraderie in the Veteran community, especially their dedication to helping out newer transitioning Veterans and the positive outcomes that can be achieved when Ex service organisations and the local community work collaboratively.

Sport lets people attend an event, from there, it lets you relax and chat about things, your guard comes down and then you can speak freely.” 

act region – debbie

Debbie’s recent Dragon Boating event was a major highlight for her, however it was the specific story of one of the competitors that stuck with her, inspiring her and reigniting her belief in the power of sport for veteran’s recovery and wellbeing.  

“The atmosphere Team Veteran brought to the Sydney Lunar New Year Dragon Boating Festival was so rewarding! Everyone involved was so proud to represent the Defence community, bringing together paddlers from various clubs across the country.  

Perhaps, the most inspiring story was that of a current serving veteran who took part in the yellow and black Team Veteran Jersey. A double amputee who races dragon boats with his wife, he hadn’t been in a boat since his accident 14 months ago. This event marked his return to the sport, and seeing his joy and determination was a highlight for all of us.” 

western australia – hannah

For Hannah, our resident WA Veteran Engagement Manager, it was the community support that made her work in the past couple of months to bring sport to the local defence community all worth it.  

“In January, I organised for children and their supervising adults from the Legacy WA Annual Children’s Camp to attend Geographe Bay parkrun. All 119 participants, made up of current and ex-serving veterans and family members, successfully completed the parkrun with big smiles on their faces.  

It was so fulfilling to watch the children, veterans and members of the parkrun community rally around each other, encouraging them to keep going, and cheering for each person as they crossed the finish line. This event not only promoted physical wellbeing but also fostered a sense of community and support.  

This event transcended the physical benefits of exercise. It fostered a powerful sense of community and belonging for everyone involved. It was particularly fulfilling to see the veterans and children engaging with the parkrun community in such a positive manner, and awesome to be able to connect them with the parkrun community so that they can continue benefitting from sport. The event created a bridge where they could connect and potentially continue enjoying the social and physical well-being benefits of parkrun together in the future.” 

South east queensland – justine

For some of our Veteran Engagement Managers, like Justine, their regular programs are where they have the biggest impact. Allowing them to have regular touch points to veterans and family members, they can stay connected while getting active each week.  

“I can honestly say that the most fulfilling event that I have been running recently has been my indoor rowing program. After getting the program up off the ground around Veteran’s Health Week last year, it has really taken off!  

We started back this year and the program has been booked out every week. We do a combination of rowing drills/exercises and Personal Training – and have a wonderful coach, Annmarie. Through the guidance of our coach, we are seeing the physical benefits, teamwork and camaraderie amongst those attending the regular program within the Veteran community. I’m very proud of how it is running and also helping our Veterans in the community.” 

Indoor rowing local engagement

new south wales – jye

With so many events facilitated each month, choosing just one proved difficult for Jye. However, the recent True Grit military-style obstacle course that he was a part of was a highlight of the past couple of months.  

“This month’s True Grit event wasn’t just about competition, it was about teamwork and camaraderie. We had a fantastic group of current and former serving veterans and a some family members taking part as Team Veteran members.  

Our goal was simple: work together – everyone starts, everyone finishes. It wasn’t easy – the course pushed us both physically and mentally. There were moments when doubt crept in, but that’s where the true strength of the team shined. We supported each other, encouraged each other, and ultimately, everyone crossed that finish line. The positive feedback we’ve received speaks volumes about the experience. It was a day of challenge, camaraderie, and shared accomplishment, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.” 

south coast nsw – megan

Recently joining the Veteran Engagement Team, Megan has quickly realised the vast impact that her community work can have on veterans and their family members.  

“Even though I haven’t been with the Team for very long, it’s already been incredibly rewarding. Seeing the enthusiasm for our regular activities has been truly heartwarming. Both the indoor rowing and yoga programs have become highlights for many veterans, with consistent attendance each week. 

There’s a real sense of camaraderie in the classes that extends beyond the exercises. It’s been wonderful to witness, and even become part of, the conversations that happen before and after sessions. Veterans check in with each other, asking how their week has been, offering support and sharing stories. It’s clear these activities are more than just physical exercise – they’re creating a space for connection and community. Experiences like this solidify the importance of these programs and the positive impact they have on veterans and family member’s lives.” 

The stories shared here are just a glimpse into the transformative power of connection and support within our veteran communities. Our Veteran Engagement Managers are the heart of this movement, fostering a safe space for veterans and families to utilize sport in a way that is beneficial to their lives and overall wellbeing.  

To take part in a local event near you, head to our Events page, or sign up to your local Facebook group here.

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