Veteran and current serving RAAF Reservist, Lachlan Woolford, has donned his weighted vest for a second year in support of regional veterans and their families. Having served 12 years in the RAAF as an avionic technician, and now currently serving in the RAAF reserves, Woolford understands the challenges that veterans face in their transition to civilian life. Woolford’s own transition experience, along with the shortage of regional veteran support services, inspired him to take action and raise funds in support of his fellow service personnel and their families.
In 2020, Woolford created the ‘Vested for a Cause’ fundraiser as a community fundraiser for veteran support service provider, Soldier On. The month-long fundraising initiative saw Woolford challenging himself to wear a 10kg weighted vest continuously, only removing the vest to shower and sleep. Throughout the month, Lachlan would work, train and even play cricket while wearing the vest. “In wearing the vest, I am acknowledging and simulating the load that our personnel still have to carry with them once returning home. The weight of PTSD on returning servicemen and women is something that is constantly carried around and cannot simply be taken off,” Woolford said. “I set myself a fundraising goal of $2,000 and thanks to the amazing support of my local community, I was able to raise more than $11,000 by the end of the month.”
Returning again in 2021, the initiative has seen Woolford tackle the 30-day challenge during the month of September with an increase in weight to 16kg. Lachlan has also expanded the initiative, with teams joining the challenge. This year’s challenge involves 10 teams joining forces to support their local veteran community. Each participant wears a 10kg weighted vest for a portion of the month before passing on to their fellow team members to share the load. Each team is sponsored by a local Narrabri business. Without the support of the local business community, the expansion of this initiative would not be possible.
Soldier On CEO Ivan Slavich, said the organisation is thrilled to have the support of passionate community members like Woolford. “It is wonderful to see members of the veteran community getting out there and showing their support for their fellow service personnel. Lachlan’s passion and commitment to the betterment of our regional veterans is a true embodiment of comradery and mateship,” Slavich said. “Through Lachlan’s efforts, he is not only raising much needed funds, but is stepping up and spreading an important message about the needs of our regional veterans. The funds raised by Lachlan and his supporters will allow Soldier On to provide our regional communities with greater access to support services,” Slavich added.