MESSAGE FROM PRESIDENT MICHAEL D. HIGGINS
As President of Ireland and Supreme Commander of the Defence Forces, I am very proud to be Patron of the Organisation of National Ex-Service Personnel.
Founded seventy years ago on the important values of compassion, solidarity and care, ONE has continued across those seven decades to reach out a hand of friendship and support to veterans of the Defence Forces.
As a nation, we take great pride in our Defence Forces and the qualities of courage, integrity, selflessness and heroic valour that characterise those who offer their service to the Army, Navy and Air Corps. We also greatly appreciate the international admiration that exists for the conduct and professionalism of the tens of thousands of men and women who have served on peacekeeping missions overseas.
Those who give so much in the service of the State deserve our profound gratitude for the duties they undertake on behalf of the State. As a society we must not, however, forget that they also deserve our support when they retire from those duties and enter a new, and for some a difficult, chapter of their lives. We can be deeply grateful to the Organisation of National Ex-Service Personnel who do so much to help veterans of our Defence Forces who may find themselves in vulnerable situations and in need of compassionate care or practical assistance.
In the seventy years since your foundation, you have reached out generously to generations of Ex Service Personnel whose journey into civilian life may have been a demanding and complex one. Your generous work in supporting those who find themselves impoverished, homeless or perhaps coping with a difficult legacy of disability, depression or post- traumatic stress disorder has provided a vital lifeline of hope to so many who have served their country so well and now find themselves in challenging circumstances.
It is work I have witnessed at first hand, for example during a visit to Brú na bhFiann, one of ONE’s residences for homeless former members of the Defence Forces. I was both inspired and greatly moved on that occasion by the wealth of kindness and great spirit of solidarity extended to veterans and comrades by those whose shared experience allowed a unique empathy and understanding
That spirit lies at the heart of all that ONE do, as they continue to develop and expand the services they offer to veterans, including counselling, assistance with long term health care, the establishment of veteran support centres, the development of training for welfare officers and the ongoing reviewing and growth of facilities for those who are homeless.
On this milestone anniversary, I am delighted to have the opportunity to express my gratitude to all those involved with ONE for their generosity and compassion, and the profound difference they have made to the lives of so many valued Ex-Service Personnel.
Go raibh mile maith agaibh go léir.