A survey of the region's veterans has revealed the true depth of issues facing the men and women who leave the Defence Force.
The Pro Patria Centre in Wagga released its initial findings after it commissioned a needs survey of veterans across the Riverina in March, with more than 300 already having responded.
One "confronting" fact was that 60 per cent have considered taking their own life in the last two years, and 65 per cent reported not feeling connected with their local veteran community.
Before retiring in 2018, Tony Wennerbom was the Deputy Commandant at the Royal Australian Air Force College.
Armed with four degrees and a lengthy career of being responsible for those serving under him, Mr Wennerbom struggled when leaving RAAF.
He has since been named the Pro Patria Centre's chairman, an opportunity he sees to enact change.
"The PPC is not there to replace existing organisations but to bring them together and connect to them our veterans," Mr Wennerbom said.
"We are trying to create an opportunity to connect with the families and the recruits when they join so they know about all the support and tools they can access."
This year, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the royal commission into veteran and serving Defence personnel suicides.
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Mr Wennerbom said a question that needs answering is, "how did they get to that point?"
"People leave or are asked to leave, and they get handed a DVA number, and then they try to triage them," he said.
"That model has not worked. How do we get everyone on the same page?
"It's a long journey to get to the point where someone considers taking their life, so we need to address that early on."
Mr Wennerbom said he had heard a recent twist on a popular saying, and it was a motto he thinks Wagga could live by.
"It takes a village to save a life," he said.
One Riverina veteran, who wished to remain anonymous, was an army medic for nine years before being "kicked out" and medically discharged.
He said the impact on him was devastating as he almost lost his house, and it fractured relationships. He added the statistics around suicide were heartbreaking but not surprising.
"All veterans are different, but one of the main things is that we feel isolated," he added.
"The loss of mateship is not something that you can explain to civilians. Unless you have been in that situation you don't understand."
The veteran told The Daily Advertiser there needs to be more proactive support for the men and women who leave the army.
"You are trained for months and months," he said. "They break you down, then reform you into something.
"You train every day that you are there to be a soldier. They don't train you to be a civilian."
Jacqui Van de Velde, a Pro Patria Centre board member, said the survey is still ongoing but has already provided valuable insight.
She added the suicide statistic was "confronting" but it was a reality that needed to be proactively tackled.
Ms Van de Velde also explained that one of the standout insights was that the family unit is considered the most important and positive support network for individuals.
"We need to make sure we are supporting them as they are the ones at home," she said.
Another issue raised was access to a GP that understood the intricacies of claims through the Department of Veterans' Affairs.
"Something else that was brought up is the need for rehabilitation centres," Ms Van de Velde said.
"We have a big community of people who have got and will have ongoing needs, so we can't keep displacing them and sending them to Sydney, Melbourne or Canberra."
Ms Van de Velde said the Pro Patria Centre would be focusing on responding to the needs raised by both veterans and first responders to ensure they are supported.
The survey is still open, for much information click here.
If reading this has impacted you, call Accessline Murrumbidgee on 1800 800 944, or Lifeline on 13 11 14.\
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