Three years on
I am a veteran with 20 years Army Service with a DVA Gold Card TPI I was fortunate enough to discover the Forge Through Program three years ago when it was just starting out. At that time I was going through a difficult period of my life. I had recently become unable to continue working. The injuries sustained as a result of my military career, both physical and mental were taking their toll on me. I was going through the process to get my DVA Gold Card which was also very stressful. My partner discovered the Forge Through Program online and persuaded me to apply for it. After being accepted for the first ever course, we set off with some trepidation from Melbourne to Batemans Bay. I am so glad that we did. It was exactly what I needed. I was encouraged to step out of my comfort zone and try a new skill by some strangers in an unfamiliar place. Any discomfort was short-lived.
After meeting the Forge Through team and my course-mate, everyone quickly relaxed over a very nice dinner and a few drinks around a campfire where we soon found ourselves sharing our experiences freely. Over the next two days we all bonded through the experience of making knives together. By the end of the course, I knew that I would remain life-long friends with everyone who was there.
The Forge Through experience does not end with the course. Participants who wish to return can be invited back to act as a mentor on a subsequent course, welcoming others into the Forge Through Family. I have mentored once and intend to go back again when the Covid restrictions are lifted. Currently I believe there are about 60 military and first responder participants in the program.
Ongoing support and contact is maintained by the annual Forge Through Fishing Competition and other social events. There is a Facebook page where we can all keep in contact and make sure everyone is ok. With the help of the wonderful people involved with the Forge Through program, I have managed to dig myself out of the hole I was in. I am moving forwards with the support and encouragement of the people who make up Forge Through. I also take pride in being able to give support to others in the program and to the program itself. I have seen the Forge Through program make a big difference in the lives of the participants, their families and friends.
Doug Army - retired