While COVID-19 has many self-isolating, and all of us social distancing and living a very different life to the one we’re used to, our veterans continue to display the resilience of which we have become accustomed.  After all, they have experienced the world in turmoil before.  An experience which brings perspective, clarity, a sense of calmness.  Where wisdom comes to the fore.  But what use is wisdom unless it is shared?

Sydney Cunningham, Occupational Therapist at Living to the Max Occupational Therapy Services, has taken on the important role of sharing the wisdom of our veteran community to help lift the spirits of her colleagues.  “Through supporting veterans in their homes, we have endless opportunities to meet many interesting people and build relationships over time.  I absolutely love listening to their life experiences and if I can pass on that wisdom during these trying times, that is a bonus” Sydney says.

“At Living to the Max, we often talk about how privileged we are to work so closely with our veterans and I have been fortunate to have had such wonderful conversations over the past 2 years.  I thought what better time to share the positivity and advice that I think we can all learn from”

Here is a selection of quotes from veterans that Sydney has been sharing with her colleagues at Living to the Max:

“Everything in moderation – don’t smoke, don’t drink too much and eat a healthy diet. Use your common sense and don’t do anything impulsive. Be kind and simple, life wasn’t meant to be this complicated” (93-year-old female)

“It’s always good to give people a good smile when you walk by and wish them well – be generous and understanding, you never know what someone is going through” (97-year-old female)

“Look up and laugh – be happy, bright and gay, people don’t smile enough anymore. Whatever happens in life, good will always come of it. Every day has a problem, but we always solve it” – (94-year-old female)

“Forget about all the doom and gloom and go on with life as you can, I know that the young ones would like to get out to run around but we must be patient and we must hope for the best – we need to ride it out, may take a while but time is only the tick tock of the clock – keep smiling and be happy, you’re not alone” (92-year-old male)

“Have a good healthy diet and exercise, I go for regular walks – stay off the fats and sugar. Drink in moderation, I enjoy a beer, but in moderation. Make sure you have a good partner, a good wife to look out for you and while you’re fit and able, make sure you interact socially – don’t keep to yourself” (87-year-old male)

“Young people should start practicing a good diet. Be nice to your partner, it might be hard to get another one. Don’t take any nonsense and don’t let anyone push you around, you are the boss – be yourself” (91-year-old female)

“Be truthful, always be true to yourself – don’t ever let yourself down” (92-year-old female)

“Keep working – always have something to do” (95 years old male)

“Always stand up straight – you don’t want to be hunched over like me” (89-year-old female)

“To be honest about life and everything, if you’ve got something to say just say it – even if it is hard” (94-year-old male)

“Take care of others, and yourself, and laugh a lot” (94-year-old female)

Managing Director and Senior OT, Tracie McInnes, says that, as an essential service, they have been fortunate to continue providing services to their aged and disability clients with many adapting to telehealth or virtual consults as needed.

“For our veteran community, technology is more difficult but we have continued to be amazed by their wisdom and positive outlook.  Our job is to help our veterans but during the COVID-19 crisis, we have found our wonderful veterans are actually helping us get through this difficult time” Tracie said.

“There is much to be said by sharing one’s kindness, wisdom and life experience.  Our veteran community has been able to do just that, and we suggested to Sydney how great it would be to share such wisdom with the broader community”.

“As we work from home, Sydney has taken it upon herself to share these positive messages and, with ANZAC Day approaching, we wanted to reflect on the positivity that arises from a crisis, be it a world war or a global pandemic.  If we can learn from this pandemic, be willing to share what we have learned and continue to be kind to one another, then we will all be in a better place beyond COVID-19”.

Although Living to the Max has been quick to embrace technology and adapt the way they help those in the community, it has been a lot of sweat and more than a few tears to keep their critical services operational.

“As we were rolling out strategies to maintain our services, Sydney sent a private email to me that made me cry” said Tracie.  “She said it takes a village to raise a child and she understood that each and every one of us has a part to play but she knows that we will come out the other end brighter and even more resilient.  She then said maybe I’ll change that to it takes a village to support a business and beat COVID-19”.

“As the owner of a family business, I was humbled by such an amazing approach.  And, notwithstanding the values shown by Sydney, it is the wisdom and the outlook on life by our amazing veterans which helps drive this attitude – and we thank them for it”

Lest we Forget.

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