No Duff is military slang for "this is not a drill" and is headed by former soldier Aaron Wood. Course participants are in different phases of their transition and from a mix of service backgrounds: army, navy, air force and secret service.
The inaugural course saw ten veterans take the journey to Anakiwa and from all accounts, it was a resounding success.
James Baldwin, 27, served four years in the army, and was deployed to both Timor and Afghanistan.
“When I left the army, I didn’t get any support and didn’t know where to find it. A lot of training goes into teaching aspiring soldiers how to think and act like a soldier but when they leave there is no training available to help them get back to civilian life, to integrate back into society."
“I thought everyone else must get out and be fine, but everyone struggles when they leave,” says the Te Awamutu veteran.
Feedback after the inaugural February course has been 100% positive with many describing it as a life changing experience. Kate Vandemeer from Hawkes Bay served six years in the airforce as a technician says the course was memorable.
“It was just really special and something I will treasure for a very long time” said the 30 year old.
She says the opportunity to engage in depth with other veterans in a non-judgmental, supportive environment has had a significant positive impact on her wellbeing. James agrees with his fellow alumni;
“It’s bittersweet because while it’s sad knowing the transition has failed a lot of people, being present in the course was helpful because it’s a good feeling to know there are others out there like you.’
For more information about the No Duff Charitable Trust, go to: https://www.facebook.com/NoDuffNZ/