TRAVELLING FLAG
TRAVELLING FLAG

Veterans raise flag on cross country mission

A MILITARY flag made its way across the nation garnering signatures from veterans to "raise the flag for mental health".

Neil "Wally' Wallace started an online blog called Wally's Chinwag after he was discharged from the Army in 2014 and struggled to navigate the process, and life afterwards.

Feeling like he wanted to do more, Wally recreated a military tradition of signing military flags on operations and started sending his own to friends, and anyone who wanted to show support in breaking down the stigma of mental illness.

It's now in Townsville at Australian Warfighter Coffee to start a conversation about suicide rates in the veteran community.

"I wasn't expecting it to take off, its signifying people are taking mental health seriously and things are starting to change," he said.

A military flag has been making its way around the nation garnering signatures from veterans to
A military flag has been making its way around the nation garnering signatures from veterans to "raise the flag for mental health". Australian Warfighter Coffee owner Stewart Locke. Picture: Alix Sweeney

"It's been all around South Australia, Canberra, Brisbane, Townsville, and scheduled to go to Alice Springs, Darwin, Melbourne, Perth.

"Once it's filled, there's a place in South Australia called Stable Life Counseling Services I will give it to because a lot of the work they're doing is out of their own pocket and they've helped me a lot too so I want people to see it when they come to their sessions."

Australian Warfighter Coffee owner Stewart Locke said he wanted to get behind the initiative to encourage veterans not to suffer in silence.

"I got out of Defence abruptly and it was really depressing actually because I didn't have any purpose," he said.

"I got really down and that's when I realised my purpose was to provide a future for my kids so I gave myself a purpose for them and opened this place.

"People have got different battles, there are so many different types of people who respond in their own way but no option should ever be to give up."

 

A military flag has been making its way around the nation garnering signatures from veterans to
A military flag has been making its way around the nation garnering signatures from veterans to "raise the flag for mental health". Australian Warfighter Coffee owner Stewart Locke. Picture: Alix Sweeney

 

Mr Locke said he never imagined opening his coffee shop could have created the supportive community it has now become.

"We've been told by numerous people we've not so much saved their lives but we've changed it," he said.

"We've given them a purpose as well because they actually get out of bed to come here and we can't fault that."

You can register to have the flag sent to you by visiting https://wallyschinwag.org

 

 

kate.banville@news.com.au

Originally published as Veterans raise flag on cross country mission


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