Dressed in leather adorned with regalia, a local motorcycle group are providing support for Ballarat veterans.
The Military Brotherhood military motorcycle club VIC West sub-branch raised $11,000 to create a barbecue trailer, which will now be used for Legacy Week, ANZAC Day and other Ballarat community events.
After only 12 months, the sub-branch has 44 members – former defence force members and civilians alike – working to visit veterans and help others navigate the Department of Veterans Affairs.
MBMMC VIC West sub-branch president Greg Green said the group provided powerful support for Ballarat veterans suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as the old guard.
When you leave the Australian Defence Forces, you are just a number. ‘Bye, seeya, DVA will deal with you now.' ... And then the black dog starts to bite.MCMMC VIC West sub-branch president Greg Green
“I suppose [DVA] can’t hang on to everybody, but it’s a black hole … and then they find a club like ours,” he said.
“With Legacy and RSL, a lot of them are getting older and can’t do the heavy lifting or hard yards, so we step in and help them.”
Jodie Plowright is part of the club’s Sierra Squad, made up of members who haven’t served in the forces. She said the barbecue trailer was a simple creation to help them “get out and mingle with the community”, connecting with veterans who might be in the shadows.
“Things like this happen in the background, and if they don’t know that we’re here, they can’t come to us for help or support,” Ms Plowright said. “That’s a big focus for us, because there is so much suicide in returned service-people.”
The sub-branch’s executive has assisted nine veterans to get health care entitlements, including two who were repatriated for medical care from Vietnam.
Mr Green said while none of the group are experts, they were “pretty good at guiding people in the right direction”.
Sub-branch member Steve Plowright said ultimately, returned service-people are “just happy to know people are thinking of them, and they’re not alone.”
“Some of our members have had troubles, and now they have support and are happy to support others in the same position,” he said.
“The other advantage we have as ex-military is that we get things done.”
To create the barbecue trailer, the sub-branch was assisted by DJB Plumbing and Gas, Trade Link, ART Auto Electrics, PRD Ballarat, A1 Signage and Central Harley Davidson Bendigo. Cash donations were made by McNaulty’s Timbers in Benalla, Australian Lamb Company in Colac, Reus’s Nursery in Warrenheip and Beach Belle Holiday Units in Queenscliff.