Soldier On WA state manager Daniel Fogarty said the independent national charity provided support to former Defence Force members who had returned from service with physical or psychological wounds since 1990.
The WA operation, established about 18 months ago by two volunteers, gained its first employee in December and is based in an office provided by the South of Perth Yacht Club at Coffee Point in Applecross.
Mr Fogarty said the branch ran a weekly learn to sail program on an Etchell yacht donated by the SoPYC where a partnership had also been formed with fellow tenant Cam Can, an organisation that helps people with disability and their families live in the community.
‘We had some sailors, former defence personnel, who enjoyed learning to sail on the Etchell so much that they helped crew a vessel in the 2014 Sydney to Hobart,’ Mr Fogarty said.
‘The yacht they were on, Southern Excellence, finished ninth in line honours.
‘Soldier On was able to pay for this experience which has helped these guys enormously.’
Other activities include weekly social cycling sessions, canoe and sea kayaking, learn- to-row classes in Belmont and a recent learn-to-surf weekend for seven veterans and their families in Margaret River.
‘We like to promote heal-thy, active lifestyles because we know it’s good for mental health,’ Mr Fogarty said.
‘It gives them a reason to get out of bed in the morning and the family activities are a chance for people to meet and make new friendships, preventing social isolation.’