Veteran support at hand

Laurie Mann And Indi (2)  TBW Newsgroup
SUPPORT GIVEN: Mount Gambier's Laurie Mann provides much needed support for veterans and their families around the region.

Laurie Mann And Indi (2) TBW Newsgroup
SUPPORT GIVEN: Mount Gambier’s Laurie Mann provides much needed support for veterans and their families around the region.

AUSTRALIAN Army veteran Laurie Mann has only lived in Mount Gambier for a handful of months but has already had a significant impact on the community.

Moving from Horsham to the Blue Lake city in October of last year, Mr Mann quickly launched a veteran support service in the region which has already amassed a clientele of over 60 people.

Working in conjunction with the Returned and Services League Mount Gambier sub-branch, Mr Mann works with veterans in need of support with their health and finances, helping connect veterans to the Veterans Affairs Department’s services.

Serving for 20 years in the Australian Army’s engineering division before moving to roles in local government, Mr Mann said national service took a toll on those involved, from operational work right through to training and travel.

Mr Mann was forced into early retirement after six surgeries on his knees and hips and now uses a mobility scooter to support his day-to-day needs while also proudly caring for his service dog Indy.

Since retirement, Mr Mann has been highly active in veteran support around Australia and has helped develop a number of networks, his most recent being the Limestone Service’s Hub.

“I thought about what I am going to do so I trained to be a volunteer advocate when we were living in Melbourne and Horsham,” he said.

“Now I have taken on the advocacy role here for veterans and their families.”

Mr Mann said while sifting through veteran documentation could be tedious at times, the work was rewarding.

“I help veterans through issues with the Department of Veterans Affairs but it is also for the families as well because it is not just about the veteran, it is also about others it effects,” he said.

“We deal with a range of issues but the most common ones include injuries to the lower back, legs, shoulders and some arm injuries, as well as mental health.

“Once you see the relief on the families and friends faces knowing they have got that support and knowing you helped them find it, it is a fantastic feeling.”

Mr Mann believes his first-hand experience helps connect him to the needs of each client and understand the circumstances they face.

“I think you do need some type of service background to understand these things,” he said.

“I understand what they are saying, how they are feeling and it is that which drives me.”

While offering support locally, Mr Mann encouraged veterans to join the national Open Arms program, which provides counselling and psychologist support.

Mr Mann is located at the Mount Gambier Community RSL on Mondays and Thursdays from 10am until 1pm.