Soldier On is a not-for-profit veteran support organisation delivering a range of services to enable serving and ex-serving veterans and their families to thrive.
It is Australia’s only national, fully integrated and holistic support services provider for our national service personnel and their families.
Soldier On currently reaches more than 6,000 Australian veterans and their families, offering support services including a range of mental health and wellbeing services, employment support and education programs, as well as activities focused on connections with family, friends, and the broader community.
Soldier On continues to adapt to meet the needs of Defence personnel, contemporary veterans, and their families. This means providing services for the entire family, in areas that truly support connection with the greater community, whether participants are still serving or have separated from service.
Every year, an average of 6,000 Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel leave their military service. The transition from military to civilian life presents significant challenges for our service men and women including loss of identity and purpose, career uncertainty, social isolation, mental health difficulties, trauma, and an increased risk of suicide.
Modern conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq saw the deaths of 41 Australian service members; a figure which has been far surpassed by instances of current and former ADF member suicide – 419 between 2001 and 2017. The rate of suicide of ADF ex-service men from 2002-2019 was 24% higher than the national male average, and 102% higher for ex-serving females. This problem is pervasive and now well recognised by individuals, organisations, and the government.
In response the devastating statistics of veteran and defence suicide, Soldier On established the March On challenge.
March On is a virtual walking challenge, calling upon Australians to walk 96 kilometres, the length of Kokoda, during the month of March to raise funds to help prevent veteran suicide.
The challenge pays tribute to the sacrifices made by our brave soldiers in Kokoda in World War II and highlights the importance of assisting our serving and ex-serving veterans of today.
In 2021, more than 6,200 participants, 862 teams, and 27 schools took part in the challenge, marching a total of 382,000km across the globe in unique ways, with some participants even completing their challenge across the ocean floor and mountain peaks.
The campaign received tremendous support from the Australian public, raising more than $1.85 million in support of our veteran community. The funds raised from March On go directly towards the provision of life-changing support services for our contemporary veterans and their family members, including mental health support, employment and education assistance, and opportunities for social connection.
For more information, visit soldieron.org.au