Aussie Veterans To Save With New Discount Card, As Invictus Games Wrap Up
As the Invictus Games come to a close in Sydney, veteran groups are focusing on what comes next for our national servicemen, women and their families.
Support group Soldier On has welcomed the federal government's announcement of a new "recognition system" as a step towards supporting the nation's more than 300,000 veterans.
Part of an "Australian Veterans' Covenant" would include a new card and pin that would help businesses identify veterans and offer them discounts on items such as groceries.
Minister for Veterans' Affairs Darren Chester said the initiative was a way of continuing to honour veterans' sacrifice.
"I think the Veterans Covenant, underpinned by the veterans card, is a practical and tangible measure where, not just on Anzac Day or Rememberance Day, we can support our veterans every day of the year," he said on Saturday, ahead of the Games' closing ceremony.
It's understood the card will be separate to the Department of Veterans' Affairs health cards, which allow veterans to access some healthcare services.
But it would be up to retailers whether they offer discounted prices.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the move was a "no brainer" for Aussie businesses, saying he had received a fantastic response from the likes of Target, Bunnings and Coles who have already shown their support.
"We will be working with the corporate sector from the smallest business to the largest to make sure they can offer them discounts on everything from car insurance to coffee to dry-cleaning to grocery bills," Morrison said.
Spokeswoman for Soldier On Melissa Russell hopes the card and pin system is a sign of what's to come.
"Anything that provides additional support to veterans and their families is a positive thing. Hopefully it will get a bit larger," she told ten daily.
"I think it's more about the opportunity for recognition of service."
She welcomed the government's announcement on Saturday which also included $6.7 million to help build the Soldier On Fussell House accommodation facility in Sydney.
The facility is named after Lieutenant Michael Fussell who was serving with the Special Operations Task Group in Afghanistan when he was killed in action by an Improvised Explosive Device detonation.
"This accommodation allows family members to join their loved ones as they go through treatment and recovery," Russell said.
$7.6 million was committed to the Kookaburra Defence Program that supports children of ex-serving defence force members experiencing mental ill health.
The Invictus Games have cast a global spotlight on the veteran community. As they come to a close, groups such as Soldier On are focusing on what comes next for competitors and their families.
"It is always a concern with these big activities that people may experience a 'crash'. It's important that we can help them set goals and connect with others to be able to find something, whether it's sport or employment, to focus on next," Russell said.
"While it has been wonderful to have light shone on the community, we hope these kinds of initiatives will happen more regularly and provide more support, particularly to families."
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