Larger numbers of younger ex-servicemen falling on hard times in recession
Charity raising funds to offer accommodation to former military personnel
Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces Lieut-Gen Seán McCann at the launch of the fuchsia appeal to raise funds for former members of the Defence Forces who have fallen on hard times, accompanied by John Gus Hennessy (right) president of the Organisation of ex-Servicemen and Women. Photograph: Alan Betson
The age profile of former Defence Force members in need of accommodation after falling on hard times has become younger since the recession began, it has emerged.
A housing block in Dublin that can accept 30 ex-solders, airmen or seamen in need of accommodation is full and smaller units in Athlone, Co Westmeath, and Letterkenny, Co Donegal, are also fully occupied.
The units, which house a total of 44 people, are run by the Organisation of ex-Servicemen and Women (One) which yesterday launched its annual fuchsia appeal.
The fundraising drive, launched by Chief of Staff Lieut Gen Seán McCann, will see emblems of the fuchsia flower sold to the public throughout July. Chief executive of One, Ollie O’Connor, said while many of the ex-servicemen now in need of his organisation’s independent living accommodation and day time drop-in centre are older men who have fallen on hard times, the organisation has helped many younger clients in recent years. “We have had one chap who was in the Defence Forces and got diabetes and had to leave over that and had a hard time then for a while,” he said.
Mr O’Connor said the reasons bringing ex-servicemen to his group’s doors can be varied.
“You see people whose marriages have broken up and these days there’s not as much money around so when they leave the family home they may not be able to keep another place going where they could live.” All of the clients have en suite bedrooms with satellite TV and can have their meals in common areas. Alan Byrne, a 52-year-old father of two from Inchicore, Dublin, is currently living in One’s accommodation on North King Street.
He spent 17 years in the Defence Forces. However, in recent years he suffered a double family bereavement and his marriage has also now broken up and seen him leave his family home.
“All your needs are met, including three meals a day and a roof garden. It’s also in the city centre so it’s central. I think people come here with the idea that they are going use it as a transition but because it’s such comfortable accommodation people tend to stay,” he said.