Veteran enjoys Port Lincoln trip thanks to local program

RESPITE: Michelle Waldron and Neil Goedings (centre) at the Marina Hotel with Eyre, Land and Sea, Road to Recovery representatives Robyn Rowsell and Peter Morton, with Samson Rowsell.
RESPITE: Michelle Waldron and Neil Goedings (centre) at the Marina Hotel with Eyre, Land and Sea, Road to Recovery representatives Robyn Rowsell and Peter Morton, with Samson Rowsell.

An Afghanistan veteran has been the first serviceman to escape to the Eyre Peninsula and enjoy the sights thanks to a local program aimed at providing respite to military veterans.

'Eyre, Land and Sea, Road to Recovery' is a community-based program which helps provide respite to veterans, their partners and families to help them escape the pressures and stress of their day to day challenges.

This includes providing complimentary accommodation, food and gift vouchers, free activities and gifts upon arrival featuring local products.

All of the items offered to veterans are voluntarily donated and visits are tailored to the interests of an individual veteran and their family.

Former sergeant and Afghanistan veteran Neil Goedings from Adelaide has become the first veteran to take part in the program, coming with his partner Michelle Waldron.

Mr Goedings said they looked at coming over themselves when his rehabilitation coordinator recommended him to this program.

He said they were provided with a donated two bedroom unit from Pam Hopcroft as well as vouchers for local cafes and for dinner at the Port Lincoln Hotel.

The occasion was also a special one for the pair as Mr Goedings proposed to Miss Waldron on the Port Lincoln jetty, and the couple are now happily engaged.

Mr Goedings said they have loved their experience in Port Lincoln and had been overwhelmed with the support provided.

He said there were many veterans who struggled with one thing or another and this sort of support was valued to help them escape their troubles.

"It's very humbling there's people out there that will bend over backwards to do what they can to support veterans," he said.

"A program like this that can support veterans and help them get away from the rat race to experience peace and hospitality in a low stress environment is essential."

Eyre, Land and Sea, Road to Recovery is modelled after Robe to Recovery, which began in Robe in 2015.

Coordinator Peter Morton said the program was set up through a sub committee from Legacy.

He said at least five or six different communities had set up their own, with the program from Robe serving as the inspiration.

"I've had a fair bit of experience with the military and when I saw this thing at Robe I took it to our Legacy group," he said.

Mr Morton said the program would also have the upside for the community in it would help bring veterans back in the future.

Anyone wanting to provide support or would like further information is invited to ring 0428 837 118 or email veteran coordinator Justin Brown at duke998@bigpond.com.