Veterans inspire positive life change for Meadow Springs teen

Luis Gaebler with Afghanistan veteran Troy Methorst.
Luis Gaebler with Afghanistan veteran Troy Methorst.

RESPECT, resilience and self-discipline are just some of the traits Meadow Springs’ Luis Gaebler is developing during a nine-day boot camp in a remote part of the Gold Coast.

The 15-year-old is one of 60 kids taking part in the Veteran Mentors junior leaders program, the brainchild of a group of ex-servicemen and women who wanted to use their combat experience and military training to help children facing a range of issues such as technology addiction, bullying and low self-esteem.

The program involves children aged nine to 17 working together to face challenges such as getting back to nature and learning how to communicate without the means of technology, while pushing personal limits.

Luis said he had been “getting into trouble” before getting on the program.

“I know I haven’t been a good child lately and have been doing a lot of stupid stuff at home so my parents thought this would be good for me,’’ he said.

“When I got there I thought ‘oh great’ but now I’m starting to enjoy it.

“I’ve made plenty of friends already.

“It’s been good because I am really learning about self-discipline, knowing when to stop and how to stop, what to say and what not to say.”

Even after four days with the Veteran Mentors team, he said he felt he had moved ahead.

“I think my parents will be happy with me,” he said.

“I am going to try and get my act together and do my work at school and get my certificate in construction.

“Then I want to get a job.

“I have a huge amount of respect for the veterans and I want to do well.’’

Afghanistan veteran and now Veteran Mentors director Glenn Filtness said he and the team had a passion for helping youth and using their military training to mentor and motivate youth to better themselves.

“We are determined to help kids become accountable for their behaviour and decisions,’’ he said.

“After much discussion we realised the best way for us to pass on the knowledge and experience we had developed in the military was to run a program that could support a wide range of children.”

He said the program was proving to be a huge success.