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Gin Gin veterans connect over a coffee

Gin Gin veterans
Veterans and their families gathered for a chat at the inaugural Gin Gin RSL Sub-Branch Coffee and Catch-up. Photo: contributed.

Gin Gin RSL Sub Branch is encouraging veterans to connect over a coffee at weekly Veterans Coffee and Catch-up events.

The gathering is held every Thursday at 10 am at Gin Gin Rest Area on the Bruce Highway to accommodate as many veterans as possible.

The group also aims to attract the attention of passing travellers who are welcome to join the social banter and have a few laughs.

Gin Gin RSL Sub Branch President Marc Falt said the program offered an opportunity for veterans and their families to get together and get to know each other better.

“I wanted to start this program to connect veterans and families within the wider community in an informal setting,” Marc said.

“It allows partners of veterans to come together and share their experiences and offers an outlet to other people who understand the issues faced by veterans and their families.”

Regular attendees include veterans from all Australian Defence Force branches and some overseas military forces, including British and New Zealand veterans, with younger veterans from more recent military campaigns also coming along.

Veterans are supported at the catch-up by Gin Gin RSL Sub Branch Health and Wellbeing Officer Darren Prouse and members of the Executive Committee.

Darren said the Coffee and Catch-up program was more social than the formal monthly RSL meeting.

“The conversations go really well because we are such a diverse mixture of Army, Navy, Air Force, and Merchant Navy,” Darren said.

“They will tell you things because they know you understand.

“We’re not there to be officially RSL, we’re just there to be part of our community, to have a coffee and talk, let the conversation flow.”

Veterans attending the Coffee and Catch-up can purchase a coffee from a coffee vendor on site, with attendees regularly bringing homemade baked goods to share and homegrown produce to swap.

The success of the program has led to plans for future collaborations between Gin Gin and Isis RSL Sub Branches, aimed at further strengthening the organisation’s connection with the community.