Growing need for support for Defence Forces veterans as charity targets expansion

By James Cox /

A charity that supports Defence Forces veterans has outlined growth targets in a strategic plan to deal with the growing demand for its services.

ONE – Óglaigh Náisiúnta na hÉireann (or the Organisation of National Ex-Service Personnel) – will celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2026. Ahead of that, the charity plans to open five new veteran homes nationally, employ three new veteran support officers (VSO), and further increase its services all over Ireland.

A registered Irish charity offering housing and support for Defence Forces’ veterans, ONE’s ultimate goal is to help veterans access permanent accommodation, improve their mental health, and prevent future homelessness. Among the charity’s plans is the development of new veteran homes in Cork, Limerick, Newbridge, Galway and Louth. The VSO count is also set to increase from four to seven, while an All-Ireland Veterans’ Mental Health Support Helpline will be put in place.

ONE chief executive Cormac Kirwan told “To put context to it, there are 145,000 veterans of the Defence Forces on the island of Ireland. That would be reflective of those who served in the reserve and permanent Defence Forces. Those figures were issued by the Department of Defence to the Public Accounts Committee in June 2000 so it’s a real figure. If anything I would say the balance of that figure has changed, in that the original figure would have been approximately 95,000 veterans who would have served in the reserve Defence Forces, and 40,000 in the permanent.

“I would feel now it’s probably 90,000 reserve Defence Forces veterans and probably 45,000 permanent Defence Forces veterans. Of that 145,000, there are only 14,300 veterans in receipt of pensions from the Defence Forces. This perception that everybody is getting a pension, that’s incorrect… a significant number are not.”

Mr Kirwan pointed out that “99 per cent” of veterans transition into “healthy and happy lives” in retirement or other careers.


“We’re focused on that 1 per cent of veterans who struggle for a variety of different reasons. Service absolutely has a significant impact and can be a trigger for issues. Individuals unfortunate enough to be involved in an incident either overseas or here… that has a lasting impact on their lives. The issue of PTSD, which can be a trigger for addiction issues, suicidal ideation, martial breakdown.

Since 1994, we’ve probably kept over 1,000 homeless veterans off the streets in our homes.

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