South Australian veterans’ music group thrives

DVA Community Support staff recently visited the South Coast Veterans’ Music Group, which was established 18 months ago by Brian Thorpe — a volunteer with DVA’s Men’s Health Peer Education (MHPE) program.

The group is based in Victor Harbor about 80 kilometres south of Adelaide. It is made up of eight veterans who meet fortnightly to receive free guitar tuition from Brian, supported by one or two others who have musical experience.

‘It was great to see what Brian has achieved with the group and the progress they have made, considering a few of them were new to playing the guitar, while some had not played in a long while,’ said Community Support Adviser Neil Davies.

‘The group is a safe, fun, learning environment for veterans. They play, they sing, they banter. And there have been other positive spin-offs such as the blokes performing at the South Coast Veterans Association Christmas Show, while Brian has provided their partners and wives with ukulele lessons too.

‘This is truly a great example of a DVA program assisting the mental and social health of veterans and their families.’

Unfortunately, Brian has had to leave the program due to ill health. He was an MHPE volunteer for nine years and achieved a great deal in that time.

But the group will continue and they would like others to get involved with the South Coast Veterans’ Association by contacting Wolfe Rohde on 0414 977 818 for more information.

DVA provided funding for the group through a Health & Wellbeing application. The Health and Wellbeing Funding Program allows for projects to receive funding up to $2000 to promote and maintain the health and wellbeing of the veteran community. Enquiries about the funding and application process can be directed to ccs.mental.social.health [at] dva.gov.au

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Group of middle-aged men playing guitars in a circle indoors

Brian Thorpe (centre, in black) at the South Coast Veterans’ Music Group, which he founded.