Commando Welfare Trust
Whilst the Departments of Defence and Veteran Affairs have established processes to cover initial financial responses to the death or serious injury of Special Operations Command (SOCOMD) personnel, these tragic events invariably cause hardship for many years to come.
The Commando Welfare Trust has been created to support both initial emergency funding and then long term financial requirements of families in times of hardship where existing funding or grants or entitlements no longer provide support.
Why is there a Trust?
The dangers faced by Commandos and supporting Special Operations Command members are great whether they are on operations or preparing to deploy. Of the 40 ADF members killed since Australia entered the Afghanistan conflict 16 have been soldiers whose families this trust is established to protect. In addition approximately half of the ADF members injured in the same period have come from these units as well – some of these injuries have been career ending.
The families of these dedicated Australians deserve to first of all have peace of mind that should the worst happen they will be cared for near the standard of living they have been accustomed to and that the start in life their children would have received had they not suffered the loss is still going to be there. Serving members also will benefit from the assurance that this support will be available to themselves and their loved ones if needed.
After the Army Blackhawk crash on 12 June 1996 which resulted in the death of three Army Aviators and 15 members of the Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) the SASR Trust was created. In November 2007 during the Federal election Kevin Rudd promised $10 million would be contributed to the SASR Trust and in 2008 this promise was kept. A Commando Welfare Trust, similar in design to the SASR Trust is now in place and designed to support the other members of Special Operation Command (SOCOMD) not previously covered under the SASR Trust. The Federal Government has also made a significant contribution to the Commando Trust’s funds but we need to keep working to ensure the Trust can continue its work.
The Australian Army has suffered 40 members killed in action (KIA) since 2002 and 20 have been from Special Operation Command. Of those SOCOMD members covered by the Commando Welfare Trust , twelve have been from 2nd Cdo Regt, three from the Special Operations Engineer Regiment (SOER) (formerly the Incident Response Regiment) and one from 1 Cdo Regt. The Army has suffered in excess of 250 members wounded in action (WIA) and approximately half have been from SOCOMD. As the Special Operations Task Group continues to take the fight to the Taliban and inflict significant casualties, it is certain that sadly SOCOMD will suffer more casualties itself in the future.
The formation of a Commando Trust
The purpose of the Commando Welfare Trust is to provide discretionary funds through a Board of Trustees to support the families of serving and ex-serving members of Special Operations Command east coast units, who have been killed or injured in the course of their duty. While the Departments of Defence and Veteran Affairs are well established to cover this process, the Commando Welfare Trust has been created to support the emergency and long term financial requirements of families in times of hardship, and where grants or entitlements cannot support.
The Trust has since 20 July 2010 had both Tax exemption and Deductible Gifts Recipient status conferred on it by the Australian Tax Office.
An incident on 21 June 2010 in Afghanistan saw a Blackhawk helicopter crash during a night time insertion of Commandos into a Taliban dominated area which resulted in three Commandos killed in action and seven seriously wounded. These wounded join the dozens of other Commandos and members of the Special Operations Engineer Regiment who will require long term rehabilitation.
A number of these wounded members of SOCOMD will not return to a sufficient medical classification for continued service and will have to be medically downgraded, employed elsewhere in Defence or medically discharged. As a result it is a certainty all of these wounded members will suffer financially. The focus of this Trust is to provide financial support to the members and their families in areas such as education and emergency expenses. It is the family members of those KIA and wounded in action that will be the future of the Commando Welfare Trust and where the real difference will be made.
What is needed?
In the current war and the next, SOCOMD units will continue to shoulder a disproportionate share of offensive operations against the enemy. The casualties will continue, as will the need for the Commando Welfare Trust to show support for the families of those members who have made the ultimate sacrifice or those who have been seriously wounded. For the Trustees of the Commando Welfare Trust to provide the required additional support to the spouses and children of the fallen and wounded, ongoing assistance will be needed.
The Commando Regiments and Special Operations Engineer Regiment have a large and continually growing list of fallen and wounded soldiers. The Trustees of the Commando Welfare Trust have identified a way to make a real difference to these members or their families and seek support from the Australian corporate sector to allow it to do so.
- MAJGEN Tim McOwan AO DSC CSM – Patron
- Graham Ferguson – Chairman of Trustees (General Manager Plenary Living)
- MAJGEN Peter “Gus” Gilmore DSC AM – Deputy Chairman (SOCAUST)
- Peter Harvie – Trustee (Chairman – CHE Pty Ltd)
- Lachlan Murdoch – Trustee (Managing Director – Illyria Pty Ltd)
- Bruce Parker – Trustee (Managing Director – HM Engines Pty Ltd)
- Damian Paul – Trustee (National Managing Director – Macpherson + Kelley Lawyers)
- Peter Laverick – Trustee (Partner – Laverick Legal Lawyers)
- Ian Breedon – Trustee (Partner – Deloitte Australia)
The Trustees of the Commando Welfare Trust intend to address the shortfalls in the lives of the spouses and children of fallen and the injured members of the Command but in the formative stages the Trust needs the support of all Australians who value the fact that someone is prepared to act on their behalf in an environment that is so volatile that outcomes are always uncertain.
Of the hundreds of worthy causes that confront you each month few can give you the satisfaction that support of the Commando Welfare Trust will afford.
Donations will be applied either to the ongoing support of those families left behind by the death of their loved one in the service of our country or alternately funds will be directed into making life the best it can be for the families of those Commandos who are seriously injured whilst on operations in theatres like Afghanistan or training for deployment to theatres of war.
The Trustees will consider each case on its merits based on a complete brief provided by a Military Advisory Board convened to assess and recommend suitable levels of support to affected SOCOMD members and families.
In addition to the relief that you will bring these men or their families, you will be issued with a fully tax deductible receipt for your entire donation.
That is truly a win/win situation.
For more information contact:
Trust Executive Officer
Steve Pilmore OAM RFD
+61 418 314 940