Tasmanians are encouraged to paddle, run, march, or walk this October the 17th to support Australian servicemen and women, and their families.
Now in its fifth year, the annual Matthew Millhouse Salute is all about raising awareness of the impact mental health has on veterans, their loved ones, and the community.
Matthew’s widow and long-time supporter of his Salute, Terese Millhouse said the annual event is in honour of her late husband and soldier Matthew, with all proceeds going to mental health charity, White Cloud Foundation.
“Matthew sadly passed away in 2015 from young onset dementia after being involved in a car bomb explosion while serving in Iraq in 2004. Matthew also experienced depression, anxiety and PTSD and left behind not only a wife but also our ten-year-old daughter, Eleanor,” Ms Millhouse said.
“With everything going on in the world, from COVID-19 to the recent withdrawal of US and coalition support from Afghanistan, we have an opportunity to safely come together as a community to support each other.”
Chair of White Cloud Foundation, Professor Adam Scott, said Matthew’s legacy lives on, thanks to more than $44,000 raised for the charity over the past four years.
“Matthew served for our country and even after death, he continues to support Australians through this outdoor challenge, shining a light on mental illness and helping us help thousands of people through our Tele-Mental Health solution,” Prof. Scott said.
“Because of Matthew, we were able to launch our Meals for Mum program at Tasmania’s Royal Hobart Hospital, delivering free meals and counselling to new and expecting mothers experiencing peri-natal depression.
“We also recently launched our free multi-disciplinary Tele-Mental Health service in Queensland, where all residents can speak to a medical professional via the phone, no matter where they live.
“Our next goal is to expand this Australian-first program in Tasmania and eventually broaden this service to all throughout the country. This life changing and saving work is only possible with the support of people like Matthew, his family and the wider community.”
Ms Millhouse said after postponing 2020’s event due to COVID, she hoped this year’s fundraiser would see more Tasmanians join the cause and help continue their mission to make mental health support easier and more accessible.
“Last year, White Cloud Foundation’s Meals for Mum’s program experienced a 66 per cent increase in referrals due to COVID-19, with 441 families supported, more than 520 referrals received, and over 9,200 meals delivered,” she said.
“We now want to bring the successful Tele-Mental Health service to Tasmania and in doing so, support people just like my late husband Matthew.
“You don’t need to serve in a war to experience anxiety, depression or PTSD. Mental illness impacts everyone and through this exercise challenge, we can make support more widely available.
Patron of the Salute, Lieutenant Colonel Garth Callender said it is privileged to be part of this important event that gives back to the community as part of Matthew’s legacy.
“I also was in the same explosion as Matthew. Such circumstances make you realise that while physical injuries heal, it can take a long time to deal with the impact on your mental health,” Lieutenant Colonel Callender said.
“Depression and anxiety is real and it’s common. We have a responsibility to Matthew and all our fallen soldiers to continue to shine a light on this and on October the 17th, we can.”
The Matthew Millhouse Salute aims to raise more money and awareness this year and is looking for corporate sponsors. The official event will be held at Bellerive Beach, east of Hobart with all welcome to attend and participate in the COVID-Safe morning.
To find out how you, your family and business can get involved, please visit the Salute’s Facebook page The Matthew Millhouse Salute | Facebook.