Former Army sergeant Brian Hartigan will soon realise his goal of opening a "veteran drop-in centre".
"As a veteran myself, I had this dream - some would call it a pipe dream - for nearly two years, but had to shelve the idea when it reached a 'put-up-or-shut-up' level of discussions with fellow veterans," Mr Hartigan, 57, said.
"Then, out of the blue, Soldier On came along, seemingly open to ideas, and a marriage made in heaven very quickly emerged."
The old Kiama Ambulance Station on Terralong Street is about to get a new lease of life after being vacant for a couple of years.
I'm a veteran opening this centre for myself and for other veterans, on a build-it-and-they-will-come philosophy.
The new military veteran help centre run by Kiama resident Mr Hartigan will co-occupy the premises with the Kiama and District Business Chamber.
Mr Hartigan, in partnership with national military veteran charity Soldier On, expects to open the Kiama Veteran H.E.L.P. Centre this month.
Soldier On is a national contemporary veteran charity, established in 2012.
H.E.L.P. is a Soldier On acronym, meaning 'Health and well-being, Employment services, Learning and Participation'.
When operating, Mr Hartigan plans to use years of experience as a military journalist to full advantage for the Kiama centre, and for the veterans he hopes to attract as participants.
He has a number of volunteers lined up to help him clean and paint the site, and discuss what activities they will run there.
"It is my great desire to pass on years of accumulated experience to others, in terms of writing, photography, web design, social media management and so on, to give veterans an artistic outlet and a soft-skills boost," he said.
"I'm a veteran opening this centre for myself and for other veterans, on a build-it-and-they-will-come philosophy.
"I know what facilities I'd like to incorporate, but I also want to hear what other veterans want to see happen here too."
Mr Hartigan said they had secured an open-ended lease through council for the building, which is earmarked as part of an eventual redevelopment into an arts precinct.
"We can have it until they're ready to knock it down," he said.
Mr Hartigan is a former Australian Army helicopter mechanic and ARMY Newspaper reporter, who served 12 years full-time and 15 years in Reserves.
He deployed to East Timor in 1999 with INTERFET.
He is a veteran with physical and mental-health injuries, runs CONTACT (a veteran-owned, military-people-focused publishing house) as a "hobby/obsession", and will run the Kiama Veteran H.E.L.P. Centre as a volunteer.
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