RSL Care SA offers a continuum of care that see’s veterans and the wider community through many seasons of life. Our Andrew Russell Veteran Living (ARVL) program is designed to offer emergency accommodation to contemporary war veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, providing residents with a safe environment where they are supported to transition into more permanent accommodation. ARVL residents can receive ongoing support from RSL Care SA, with options to move into our ARVL Affordable Housing rental units and ultimately Residential Aged Care.

Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) veteran, Brian, is one ARVL resident who took full advantage of RSL Care SA’s continuum of care, and who we hope will continue to enjoy a lasting relationship within our organisation.

After a very difficult start to life, Brian was thrilled when he was accepted as an aircraft structural firefighter in the RAAF. Years of building up his fitness and physical abilities saw him far surpass many of the testing benchmarks, and for the first time in his life Brian felt a real sense of achievement and belonging. He quickly discovered that he was really good at his job. He loved the routine, the financial security he could provide to his family and most of all, the mate-ship.

Sadly, after almost four years of serving, the Australian Defence Force discovered that Brian was colour blind. He was forced to retire. This sudden loss of job security, routine and mate-ship found Brian rapidly falling into a deep depression. To make matters worse, shortly thereafter Brian also suffered some personal losses with the death of two family members and a marriage breakdown. Unable to manage his personal affairs or hold a job, Brian found himself living in his car. This would go on for 20 years, unknown to his family and friends.

In 2016 Brian accepted emergency housing within RSL Care SA’s Home for Heroes program, now ARVL. It was a big adjustment for him after living in a car for 20 years, but Brian say’s the support he received from the program manager was what kept him on track. With a roof over his head, a hot shower and a comfortable bed, Brian was finally able to get himself in the right mind frame to start looking for permanent accommodation. In 2017 Brian moved from RSL Care SA’s emergency housing, to our permanent Affordable Housing units.

Finally having a place to call home, Brian has spent the last three years creating a warm and inviting environment with his own private garden oasis. He is so thankful to have a safe place where he can focus on painting and gardening, both of which he finds extremely therapeutic and uses as a means to maintain good mental health.

When the time comes, RSL Care SA will be here to help Brian transition into one of our Residential Aged Care facilities.

RSL Care SA is proud to have provided over 11,024 nights of accommodation to contemporary veterans in need. If you or someone you know is in need of emergency accommodation, please call us on 8379 2600 and ask to speak to the ARVL program manager.

Please visit the Department of Veterans’ Affairs website for a list of Homelessness Support Services in other states.

If you would like to make a tax deductible donation to our Andrew Russel Veteran living program, please click here.