New Veteran Support Center opens in Carrick-on-Suir

On Sunday 15th October a new Veteran Support Centre (VSC) was opened on Castle Street, Carrick-on-Suir, Co. Tipperary by ONE’s South Tipperary (Clonmel) Branch, which was only formed 3 years ago.

One of ONE’s new members of the Board of Directors, Denis Larkin who is a local branch member was the main speaker and MC for the opening ceremony. Denis along with ONE’s CEO Cormac Kirwan and National President Michael Kinahan were also involved in the opening ceremony.

In welcoming all those who were gathered on this pleasant Sunday afternoon, Denis welcomed the local members of the Irish United Nations Veterans Association (IUNVA), “Whom we have been working with side by side over the last few years, they have welcomed us to many of their occasions – thank you and we look forward to doing so again soon,” he said.

Denis gave an insight into a veteran and the Branch itself: “Veteran is a title not easily earned, in order to have this title you must have served your country in some form or another and served it well, you put on that uniform and have earned the rest. Behind every veteran is a veteran’s family, and without the support from our families we would never have been able to do the job that we loved to do – on behalf of all veterans here today we thank the families that supported us over the years and to all you family members, our door is always open to you.

So, who are we? Less than 3 short years ago, we formed the South Tipperary Branch of the ONE. We were led by an all-female top table chairperson, treasurer and secretary, and a room full of ambition, among our goals we wanted to open a Veteran Support Centre (VSC) within 5 years. Our branch is made up of members from all of the services within the Defence Forces, with a wide range of experience, all driven with one goal, to give back from what we got. Our branch has been out and about working with our veteran community since its conception 3 years ago and continues to do so on a daily basis, we have our Veteran Support Officer Audra Larkin, who works with our veterans in a supporting role, and now we have our VSC here, where our veterans and family members can pop in for a chat or for whatever is on their mind on the day. To sum up we are veterans serving veterans.

Denis went on to thank a number of people who made the opening of the VSC possible: “I would like to take this opportunity now to thank all those who have helped us get to where we are today. The list is endless as I’m sure there are some people here today who when they see our number come up on their phones, they must go ‘oh no’ not that crowd again!

I would like to give special thanks to Fr. Paul Waldron PP, to whom without his support this simply wouldn’t be happening today, when we approached Fr. Paul and explained to him what it was that we were trying to do, He immediately got onboard and assisted us with anything we asked for. I would like to thank Mr. Eamon Cahil, Tusla Regional Manager who behind the scenes has been a huge supporter of our branch and accommodates us with branch meetings and anything else we’ve asked for, thank you Eamon. I want to thank local businesses Clearys Hardware, Carrick-on-Suir and BWG Value Centre Clonmel for supporting us here today, your support makes our work here much easier, thank you for everything.

Since our launch, the South Tipperary Branch has been blessed with the support of so many other branches, and at the ‘drop of a hat’ and only a phone call away, we would have anything we needed. Our dear friends and comrades in the Cork City Branch have been a guiding light to us and have steered us in the right direction anytime we have asked for assistance, on behalf of the branch we say thank you, and look forward to working together again.

I would like to thank our community; we have had tremendous support from everyone whom we have met and chatted to since our arrival here on Castle Street. We look forward to working with you in the future and like all good neighbours – our door is always open. Feel free to drop in.

Before I finish I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every member of the branch for the personal sacrifices that you have made over the last year or so enabling us to be here today, to our chairperson Audra for the hours of endless phone calls, persistent knocking on doors, for the ability to turn a refusal into an acceptance – thank you.” Audra is the branch chairperson and was employed by ONE earlier this year as a Veteran Support Officer (Counsellor) in the southern area.

ONE’s CEO Cormac Kirwan then spoke of the work of ONE in supporting struggling veterans around the country. He was followed by ONE’s National President Michael Kinahan who congratulated the South Tipperary Branch on bringing this project to fruition in such a short time.

The new VSC was blessed by Fr. Jimmy Brown, before Audra Larkin and Michael Kinahan, ONE’s National President cut the ribbon to officially open the new Veteran Support Centre.

Photos by James O’Neill.

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