MILITARY veterans with a love of motorbikes from across the state rode through extreme heat to gather and discuss issues of mental health and support at a general meeting in Moama on Saturday.
At the meeting the Military Brotherhood motorcycle club mapped out plans to turn the club into an official charity, after twice being rejected for the status, to deliver hope and change for veterans in distress.
The club is open to all military personnel from the army, navy or airforce. All they need is a love of motorbikes. Supporters and caretakers of veterans are also welcome to become associate members.
Moama resident Edward Farquhar served in the army for seven years. He left Australia on Anzac Day 2000 to serve in Timor Leste as an infantryman.
For six months, Mr Farquhar fought on the border of Timor Leste and West Timor before poor health brought him home.
He was then treated for post-traumatic stress disorder in a military hospital in Heidelberg and said his experience was common.
“A lot of us have been there. Ward 17 is famous. It’s where we all go. Then a lot of us are given pensions and set off on our own,” Mr Farquhar said.
It was this sense of isolation and a love of motorbikes that brought him to the brotherhood, where he said he found a sense of camaraderie.
“I found the brotherhood when I was lost. The group brings us back together and we form unity. Our club is based on military procedures and formats,” Mr Farquhar said.
“In my case, there just wasn’t anyone around. When you’re incapacitated, you’re put into a funny world. I just wanted to hang around blokes that were like myself.”
With more than 1000 members nationwide, the group is stepping up its fundraising efforts with the aim of getting charity status in the next 12 months.
From a classic Bunnings sausage sizzle to owning its own sausage sizzle trailer, the club now caters at events all over Victoria, including the upcoming Ballarat Jazz Festival. Its sausages are now in such demand the club has to turn down invitations.
Some of the money raised goes to a non-government funded horse therapy farm in Daylesford.
Mr Farquhar said the club had seen some great results from the veterans who attended the farm.
He said veterans were struggling to deal with government workers who weren’t properly trained and the brotherhood motorcycle group was doing a better job for veterans.
“Support from the government is lacking,” he said.
“They feel more accepted in our environment.
“There are veterans out there that haven’t even come into contact with the welfare system. We are calling out to them. They are welcome at our club and we can help.”