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Alastair’s retirement story

“Making the decision to retire 10 years ago was difficult … and making ends meet has been a minor panic” says Alastair. However if being of service to others makes you happy then...

Making the decision to retire 10 years ago was difficult. Over the previous two-year period I found I needed very sound financial advice, which I did receive. I wanted to retire so I could get much more involved in volunteer work, particularly with children.

I am a total nincompoop when it comes to financial issues. Making ends meet has been a minor panic throughout the past 10 years. Attending seminars was a waste of my time as I still did not understand. However, again, sound financial advice and doing as I was told has worked and I've been able to concentrate on the things I wanted to.

I love spending time with the grandchildren. Two boys live within walking distance of us and the first-born was a catalyst in making the decision to retire early. I have spent five years at his primary school helping little ones with reading problems; a lot of fun. Ten years I have been a voluntary guide at the Australian War Memorial (AWM) and very much love the people I work with and meet.

Five years ago I was asked to join the AWM education team, which meant a paid job. That was not in my plans. However the job has been a huge pleasure working with so many children and young adults.

Looking back, I see the immense importance of our children to our future and their breath-taking innocence.

I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after I retired. Surprising, as it was nearly 50 years after Vietnam. I am not through it yet, but very much on the mend. That has been through the amazing support provided by VVCS (DVA) and their programs. This, together with my work with children, is helping to pull me through. It is rather nice to realise that little children are helping an oldie like me.

I do spend a bit too much time in volunteer work, but I find it hard to slow down. When I first retired, I tried a number of different volunteer jobs but realised that what I do now gives me more pleasure than other outlets. Sometimes I feel guilty at enjoying volunteering so much, but then remind myself that if I did not enjoy it I wouldn't be doing a good job.

I let myself go a bit over the past two years trying to cope with PTSD and medical problems for my wife. Then DVA offered me a 12-month free gymnasium program. Honestly, I don't really like the gym. However, the half-hour walk to the gym is helping me build towards my personal training program I had before retirement. I do enjoy a drink or two, but that seems to be well within bounds. DVA is also paying for visits to a dietician. This, the gym and VVCS programs have reinforced the need for exercise, control of alcohol consumption and diet.

 


'Additional note from the editor of ‘The 3rd Act’ - DVA produced a video series to give insights into the experiences of ordinary Australians during wartime. Alastair Bridge’s story is included and can be found on the Department of Veterans' Affairs website.'

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