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March 20, 2022

How the RSL Veterans’ Employment Program helps veterans find work

Transitioning to a different career is not always easy for veterans returning to civilian life. The RSL Veterans’ Employment Program, funded by the Australian Government, supports veterans and their families to find fulfilling and meaningful employment after discharging.


At a glance:

  • Ian served in the Army Reserves and Army for 14 years.
  • When it came to finding work as a civilian after leaving Defence, he knew what field he wanted to work in – but needed expert advice for how to get there.
  • RSL Veterans’ Employment helped him build the practical skills he needed to find a role in veteran counselling services.
  • Ian now works for the Open Arms counselling service and is passionate about his work.


Although he comes from a family with a legacy of serving in the armed forces – his grandfather served in WWII – Ian did not have lifelong aspirations to serve.

“I grew up in Orange,” he says. “I worked at a mechanic’s shop after finishing year 12. My dad was a mechanic, so that’s what I did too.”

It was only when he saw Australian soldiers serving in Afghanistan that he became inspired to join.

“September 11 happened when I was still in high school,” he says. “Afterwards, I saw the troops in Afghanistan and thought, ‘I want to do that.’ So I joined the Reserves and that was that, really.”

While in the Reserves, Ian saw first-hand the camaraderie between staff and realised he wanted to “go full-time” and join the Army.

“I was just a young guy from Orange in the Reserves,” he says. “Some of the other staff had come from different units. They said, ‘If you want to go full-time in the Army and you want to go overseas, the best place to go is to Townsville.’”

After 14 years in the Defence Force, Ian was discharged in 2016. He worked odd jobs in OHS and at an audiology company, but this work came through personal contacts rather than any formal recruitment process.

“There wasn’t a need for resumes,” he says. “It was all word of mouth.”

Joining the program

The only careers many veterans have known is with the Defence Force. And while this offers a strong foundation for other careers, it does mean they lack experience navigating the job market.

RSL Veterans’ Employment Program offers a wide range of services to veterans to help them find their way to long-term civilian roles, including general career counselling, CV writing assistance and job interview coaching.

“Veterans are highly capable, but they often lack experience with civilian recruitment. We help them to translate their skills into the civilian job market, prepare for interviews and much more,” says David Anderson, General Manager Veteran Services at RSL LifeCare.

“In our program, they are matched with a consultant who helps to develop a personalised employment map, which is a picture of their future employment opportunities. This helps to determine the short and long term goals that will guide their career journey.”

The program doesn’t just help with the skills required to find a job, it also directly connects veterans and family members with potential employers.

Ian joined the program last year with his eyes set on finding work at Open Arms, an Australian Government counselling service for veterans and their families.

“The writing of the resume and statement of claims were two massive things I needed help with,” he says.

He adds that the interview practice was useful, and helped him feel prepared for when he met his potential employers.

In addition to practical skill development and helping with the job hunt, RSL LifeCare  provides veterans and their families with free wellbeing support services.

“RSL LifeCare is heavily invested in supporting the wellbeing of veterans and their families,” says Anderson.

“We provide support and services to veterans and their families across the state. We have Veteran Wellbeing Centres in Nowra and Wagga Wagga, team members based in Sydney, Ballina and Newcastle, and also offer claims appointments on-base at several locations. For people in areas where we don’t have team members on the ground, we offer phone and video conference appointments.

“In addition, through our partner charity, RSL NSW, veterans and their families have access to support and connection in their local sub-Branches throughout New South Wales.”

Meaningful employment

With help from the program, Ian got a job at Open Arms, one that he relishes.

“The role is in peer and community engagement,” he says. “It allows veterans both serving and post-discharge, and their families, to get support.”

Ian has only praise for staff at RSL LifeCare and the specialist career management firm, Right Management, they put him in contact with.

“It’s invaluable to get professional help,” he says. “If you want tyres on your car, you go to a tyre shop. Right from the get-go, the team at RSL Veterans’ Employment Program were professional in all aspects.

“It’s amazing how good the people I dealt with were. They’re professionals of the highest order. Nothing was too hard for them.”

RSL Veterans’ Employment Program helps people find a career in a field they are passionate about, says Ian.

“It’s about finding something that interests you, even if it’s not in a field you’ve been in before, and raising your awareness about the opportunities that exist.”

It doesn’t matter how long ago you served, what stage you’re at in their work journey, or how old you are. Call 02 8088 0388 or visit our Employment Assistance page to learn more about how the RSL Veterans’ Employment Program can support you to find meaningful employment.

*The RSL Veterans’ Employment Program is delivered in New South Wales by RSL LifeCare on behalf of RSL NSW.


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