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17 Aug 23. Australia’s task to secure defence industry home for retired troops. How can we best support our veterans in their employment in the defence industry?
It’s an important question that relates to the transfer and retention of key skills and experienced personnel as they move from the Australian Defence Force into the Australian commercial sector.
The federal government has previously provided a pathway with the Veteran Employment Program, which raises awareness of the skills, values, and experience veterans bring to the civilian workplace. The government has invested $24 million into the program from January this year until January 2026.
The program comprises a range of initiatives to support veterans’ transition into the civilian workforce, alongside other elements such as the Prime Minister’s National Veterans’ Employment Awards, Veterans’ Employment Commitment, and Veteran Employment Program’s Grants.
Veterans employment was up for discussion in April with a panel held between the Prime Minister’s National Veterans’ Employment Award winners, Veteran Family Advocate commissioner Gwen Cherne, and BAE Systems Australia leadership regarding veteran, partner, and families’ employment in the Defence industry.
“It was so good to talk about veteran family employment and pathways for careers with so many people dedicated to getting it right for veterans and veteran families in Defence industry and technology,” commissioner Cherne said.
BAE Systems, a previous winner of the 2021 Prime Minister’s National Veterans’ Employment Award for Large Veterans’ Employer of the Year, employs more than 500 veterans.
Not-for-profit organisation Soldier On, which delivers holistic support services that enable current and former Australian Defence Force personnel, has also voiced support for retaining former Defence personnel in the defence industry.
Soldier On chief executive officer Amy Cooper said Australia knows the incredible value ADF members can bring into civilian roles after they transition out of service.
“Problem solving, adaptability, leadership and decision making, communication, critical thinking, risk management, resilience; these are qualities valuable in any job, and ADF members and veterans have them in spades,” she said.
“These, combined with the unique combination of training and experience, can make veterans incredibly effective employees within the defence industry.
“Sometimes, the problem for veterans can lie in knowing how to translate those skills to market themselves to employers.
“Our Pathways Program supports them through that process, with practical assistance with preparing for their job search, upskilling and new training opportunities and dedicated networking experiences with our pledge partners, organisations who have signed up to demonstrate their commitment to being a veteran-supportive organisation.”
The Pledge Partners program has more than 300 small business to large corporations signed up across Australia, including defence industry leaders such as Boeing, BAE, Thales, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, and AP Aerospace, she said.
Educational institutions such as TAFE WA also run similar support programs such as the Defence Industry Veterans Employment Scheme.
The State Government funded program provides $5000 scholarships to assist career options in the WA defence industry for ex-serving Australian Defence Force members.
Bravery Trust, a national military charity which provides financial aid, financial education and financial counselling for current and ex-serving members of the Australian Defence Force, says employment and finance are recognised as key pillars for veteran health.
“Financial security, and the ability to provide for your family, is recognised as a key stress point for many veterans,” said Bravery Trust Chair Garth Callender.
“Bravery Trust has recently introduced a financial counselling service for both current and former serving members, which is assisting to manage personal financial risk and support veterans when they transition to civilian employment,” said Mr Callender.
“Our Financial Counselling Service can support serving members to address financial stressors. The Bravery Trust Financial Counselling Service is free, confidential, veteran-specific and independent of the ADF.”
Bravery Trust provides a financial safety net for veterans who cannot work due to injury or illness, he said. (Source: Defence Connect)
14 Aug 23. DARPA to develop screening tool for early detection of suicide. Since 2001, more than 30,000 US active duty members and veterans have died by suicide.
The US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has selected two university-led and two industry-led teams to advance the Neural Evidence Aggregation Tool (NEAT), envisioned as a tool to detect biomarkers for suicidal tendencies in service personnel, announced by DARPA on 11 July.
Since 2001, more than 30,000 US active duty members and veterans have died by suicide, a figure that is four times as large as the number of US service people killed during military operations in that period.
NEAT is a proof-of-concept effort that aims to aggregate preconscious brain signals to determine if what someone is saying is something they believe to be true.
As part of a medical screening this tool is intended to be used while a patient reads aloud statements with behavioural health relevance (e.g., “I want to end my life/enjoy my life”). The goal of this project is to detect suicidal tendencies through the use of biomarkers rather than relying on self-reported questionnaires.
NEAT is envisioned to be for mental health what an MRI is for the physical body: a method of assessing injury. NEAT would detect psychological and behavioural changes before they impacted readiness, just as an MRI can detect an early meniscal tear prior to a more serious injury developing that can impact a soldier’s readiness.
NEAT was initially announced in February of last year, with a planned programme duration of three and a half years, with a two year proof-of-concept phase. It has two technical areas, the first focused on cognitive science, bioengineering, and machine learning; while the second addresses independent validation and verification.
In a release from the launch of the programme, DARPA claim that this technology is not a form of lie detection, truth detection or a method of assessing someone’s credibility, and is instead a tool to “determine what someone believes to be true”.
The teams selected by DARPA for NEAT are: Charles River Analytics partnering with Tufts University, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Emory University; Draper partnering with Harvard Medical School affiliates the McLean and Massachusetts General Hospitals, the Georgia Institute of Technology, Northeastern University, and the University of Pennsylvania; University of Minnesota partnering with Deliberate.ai, Intheon, University of Washington, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute; and University of Southern California partnering with University of California, Los Angeles.
The selection of teams for the NEAT was announced the day before the Department of Navy implemented the Brandon Act, a directive that underscores the importance of engaged leadership in prioritising, normalising, and promoting mental health, announced on 12 July.
SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, has been providing lifelong support to our Forces and their families since 1885. In 2020, our teams of volunteers and employees helped more than 79,000 people in need, the currently serving (both regulars and reserves), veterans from the Second World War and those who have served in more recent conflicts, as well as their families. SSAFA understands that behind every uniform is a person. And we are here for that person – any time they need us, in any way they need us, for as long as they need us.