A veteran fundraising appeal stretching across four Australian States has delivered more than $100,000 to provide urgent financial relief to veterans impacted by injury or illness.
Bravery Trek is a virtual distance challenge, meaning anyone can join anywhere by setting themselves a distance target during the Trek period, aligned to Veterans’ Health Week.
A highlight of this year’s Trek was the extraordinary effort of 2 runners to achieve 4 physical marathons in 4 states in 44 days.
Navy veteran Murray Bruce and running legend Singh Talwar commenced their extraordinary effort in Canberra September 7, where they designed and completed a marathon course incorporating all the State Capital avenues as a symbol of their ‘Bravery Trek’ uniting Australians to show support for all who serve in the Australian Defence Force. They were joined by a community of runners including sponsors, serving personnel, veterans, politicians and supporters for the final 10km.
Within the next 44 days, Murray and Singh ran the Sydney Marathon, Melbourne Marathon and ran their own 42.2km course across Brisbane starting at the 42 for 42 Afghanistan Memorial Garden adjacent to Suncorp Stadium and finishing at Gallipoli Barracks, Enoggera. Joined by a support crew of runners, they visited the Gabba in Collingwood supporter gear to symbolise the challenges faced by some veterans after service.
“Military folk, when they are deployed overseas, they head into enemy territory. Sometimes when they come home, they might have the familiarity of home, but often there is still a sense of being a foreigner in their own country. We’re highlighting their bravery back home and their struggle reconnecting into their own communities,” said Murray.
“Veterans can feel disconnected from society when faced with financial struggles. For us, raising awareness of the challenges faced by these families and helping get support to where it is most needed is vital. We were privileged to see those connections being made and get a sense of the benefits any support can bring.”
Mr Bruce is a Bravery Trust Ambassador and Vice-President at Leidos Australia, foundation partner and major sponsor of Bravery Trek. Bravery Trek is a major annual fundraising and awareness appeal held by Bravery Trust, to provide financial support to veterans and their families. The 2023 Trek has raised $103,858.
Bravery Trust CEO Belinda Wilson said Bravery Trek was more than a fundraiser. It united the veteran community and initiated important conversations about the values, ethos and challenges of service life.
“There is something special about giving to others – and being around our volunteers who find such joy in giving,” Ms Wilson said.
“In addition to Murray and Singh’s journey along the whole east coast of Australia, we had an ex-Navy Commodore run 4 marathons in 43 hours as part of the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc! And a crew onboard ADV Cape Fourcroy cycle the Tour de France 3850km on stationary exercise bikes.
“I thank each and every participant for your contribution to Bravery Trek 2023, no matter how large or small. Every participant has shown their support and pride for the commitment made by our serving members and their families, “We all have an obligation, as Australians, to support those who serve our country for the unique sacrifices made.”
Ms Wilson said the funds raised would support veterans and their families when income was limited by injury or illness, adding that a small amount of money when provided at the most crucial time, can have a huge impact.
“We’re preventing homelessness – we are relieving that immediate pressure point for the family – and then our veteran-specific financial counsellors will work longer term with the family or the individual to create a pathway forward.
“We work with veterans and families to address the cause of their financial stress – it may be negotiating with banks to reduce debt, wipe debt, or to consolidate debt, and then our financial fitness coaches work with veterans on that longer term approach.
“It’s the old adage of teaching a person to fish, we provide urgent support when needed but after that, take them on a journey to make sure that they are able to avoid or capable to deal with future crisis.”