Helping Hands: Veterans’ Support Centre opens in the Curragh Camp

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As published in the Dec 2018 / Jan 2019 issue of An Cosantóir  
By Sgt Wayne Fitzgerald, Photos by Armn Sam Gibney

GOC DFTC Brig Gen Joe Mulligan opening the Veterans’ Support Centre with many veterans’ present

On the 19th of November 2018, the Organisation for National Ex-Service Personnel (ONE) in conjunction with the GOC DFTC Brig Gen Joe Mulligan opened a Veterans’ Support Centre (VSC) in the Curragh Camp, Co Kildare. Present for the opening was ONE CEO Ollie O’Connor, ONE National President Tom James, ONE Chairman Brig Gen Colm Campbell Retd and Chairman of the St. Conleth’s Branch John ‘Bosco’ Fogarty. The St. Conleth’s Branch of ONE headed up the project over the last few months.

The ONE is a Veterans charity, which supports the welfare of former members of the Defence Forces by providing accommodation for 44 homeless veterans in their residential homes in Dublin, Letterkenny and Athlone. ONE also provides information, advice and a friendly place to go through their branch network and Veteran Support Centres located around the country. 

GOC DFTC Brig Gen Joe Mulligan opening the Veterans’ Support Centre with Paddy Flavin, Secretary St. Conleths Branch.

General Mulligan officially cut the ribbon on the office in Block 5 Ceannt Barracks while a large number of veterans from the surrounding area watched on, including ONE branches from Athy, Carlow, Tullow, members of IUNVA, the Glengarry Club, the Military Police Association of Ireland, the 3rd Infantry Battalion Association, and Yvonne Harrison of the Irish Branch of Soldiers’, Sailors’, and Airmen’s Families Association (SSAFA).

Brig Gen Joe Mulligan with ONE National President Tom James.

In cutting the ribbon General Mulligan announced the VSC, “Open for business.”  He added that it was a great initiative and he was delighted to support it. “We tend to soldier on, and put up with anything. Now its great to come and get advice and to talk – support is important. I wish you every success… we all wanted to get this positive venture completed, it also makes the organisation [Defence Forces] stronger.” Discussing the location of the VSC, which is based in the middle of the west side of the camp in Ceannt Barracks, the general added, “Serving soldiers can see the VSC working in the middle of the barracks.” He finished by wishing the Veterans’, “The best of luck in the future.”With General Mulligan’s retirement coming up in a number of weeks, ONE CEO Ollie O’Connor took the opportunity to present the general with an ONE application form which received a great cheer.  

ONE CEO Ollie O’Connor presents Brig Gen Joe Mulligan with an ONE application form which received a great cheer.

ONE Chairman retired Brig Gen Colm Campbell thanked all for coming and said, “That the work ONE does can be summed up in a few words: Supporting, Advocating and Remembering. We support veterans with our branch network and residential homes around the country, and 8 of the 13 Veterans’ Support Centres’ are now open.  This Centre is for ‘All Veterans’ and has everything from a handshake to a cup of tea and everything in between,” he added.

ONE Chairman Brig Gen Colm Campbell Retd, explains the aims of the Veterans’ Support Centre.

For advocating he said the ONE was apolitical and advocates on behalf of all veterans to national and to local government departments and officials for their benefit.  Speaking about Remembrance, the retired general said, “Last week we remembered those who died at Niemba, following the ceremony one of our members Gregory Leech (ONE/IUNVA/2 Battalion Association) met a comrade who he hadn’t seen since they served in the Congo in 1961, it was a joy to see how delighted they were for this to happen. So, civilians have friends and soldiers have comrades.”

ONE National President Tom James finished off the official ceremony by thanking all those who helped make the project possible, he thanked the GOC DFTC Brig Gen Joe Mulligan by adding, “I’m glad we kept going and delighted we did it under your tenure.” He also thanked members of his own branch St. Conleths including Shamie Flynn who painted the offices, and chairman John ‘Bosco’ Fogarty and above all others, branch secretary Paddy Flavin who worked day and night to get the place ready and was the main steering force for the opening of the VSC.  ONE CEO Ollie O’Connor just reiterated that the Veterans Support Centres are open to all veterans living in Ireland no matter nationality.

Read these stories and more in An Cosantóir (The Defender) The official magazine of the Irish Defence Forces – www.dfmagazine.ie.

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