Óglaigh Náisiúnta na hÉireann (Organisation of National Ex-Service Personnel-ONE) is a registered charity for veterans of the Irish Defence Forces. ONE was established on 10 March 1951 and its primary objective is to support the needs of Irish veterans by the provision of accommodation to homeless veterans in its Veterans’ Hostels and the provision of other advice and support to veterans through its nationwide network of Branches and Veterans’ Support Centres.
ONE’s services are available to all veterans of the Defence Forces and we also facilitate homeless veterans from other countries living in Ireland from time to time. ONE currently provides accommodation (board and lodging) for approximately 54 veterans, who otherwise would be homeless, in its three residential homes in Athlone, Dublin and Letterkenny. ONE has created a nationwide network of Veteran’s Support Centres and is developing a 5-bedroom hostel in Cobh to address the increasing challenge of homeless veterans. This will be followed by a 6-bedroom facility in Cork City leading to the availability of 60 single rooms for homeless veterans.
The foundation of Óglaigh Náisiúnta na hÉIreann (ONE) is its branch structure. There are currently 37 Branches within ONE together with three Area Councils, with each branch being aligned to one of these. This provides a unique network for our volunteer members to maintain contact with veterans and provide assistance where necessary. Comradeship is at the heart of our branch network and uses the term comrade deliberately because it evokes a sense of shared experience, a shared culture, a shared set of values, and a willingness to serve. Being part of a veterans’ association helps preserve a sense of identity and a sense of belonging. It also evokes a sense of shared responsibility for those less fortunate than us.
VETERANS’ SUPPORT CENTRES
ONE is developing a nationwide network of Veteran’s Support Centres to provide veterans with information, advice, someone to listen and somewhere to meet with former comrades. These can be described as a cross between Advice Centres and Men’s / Women’s Sheds. It is hoped that by providing early intervention, we can alleviate social stresses and significantly reduce homelessness among veterans. Veteran Support Centres, staffed by volunteer members from our branches, are now located in: Athlone; Athy; Casement Aerodrome; Cavan; Curragh Camp; Dundalk; Galway; Kilkenny; Limerick; McKee Bks; and a temporary facility in Collins Barracks Cork. Work is underway to complete further Veteran Support Centres in: Collins Barracks and Cobh (Cork); Cathal Brugha Barracks (Dublin); and Wexford. A decision is awaited on the location of the Centre in the North-West. Of the fifteen Veteran Support Centres, eleven are located within a Defence Forces installation, with four located outside – Athy, Cavan, Cobh and Limerick.
HOSTELS FOR VETERANS
The provision of accommodation and sustenance for homeless veterans is achieved through our hostels as follows:
- Brú na bhFiann, our Dublin Hostel, is located in Smithfield and has facilities for 35 veterans. The House Manager may be contacted on 01-4850666.
- Brú Doire Feá (Beechwood House), our Donegal Hostel, is located in Letterkenny and has facilities for 7 veterans. The House Manager may be contacted on 074-9177219 or 086 603 9063.
- Brú Chostúim (Custume House), our Westmeath Hostel, is located in Athlone and has facilities for 7 veterans. The House Manager may be contacted on 090-6450930 or 086 3359583.
- Brú na Farraige, our County Cork Hostel which will open in 2021, is located in Cobh and will have facilities for 5 veterans.
- Brú uí Choileáin, our Cork City Hostel is being planned and will have facilities for 6 veterans.
Donations to the ONE Development Fund are used to develop our hostel network.
Our residents contribute on a means basis towards their keep which includes all of the facilities that one would expect in a normal home. Most of our residents have had extensive service in the Defence Forces; serving with distinction both at home and in various overseas missions with the United Nations. However, for one reason or another they now find themselves homeless and in need.
The following additional services are available to veterans
- ONE has employed a Veteran Support Officer to develop a counselling service in Brú na bhFiann for veterans in partnership with the HSE. ONE plans to employ further Veteran Support Officers.
- ONE completed a training/education course for Branch Welfare Officers in February 2020. ONE conducted four Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Courses in 2019, two courses in Dublin, one in Galway and another in Cobh Co Cork. These courses were open to veterans from all organisations. Sixty-three veterans trained as MHFA in 2019 and are operating throughout the country. It is intended to run further training/education courses when conditions allow for this to happen.
- ONE is cooperating with Section-38 Hospitals to create a pathway for veterans who need long-term The first Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed with the Royal Hospital Donnybrook in 2019. Having met the Leopardstown Park Hospital Board together with IUNVA and ARCO, they are now considering an MOU between the Hospital and ONE. Discussions had also commenced with Clontarf Hospital but an arranged meeting had to be postponed due to Government restrictions and HSE COVID-19 protocols.
- ONE initiated a strategy to ensure that we are a diverse and inclusive Veteran’s Organisation that: draws from the breadth of those who served in the Defence Forces; gains strength from that range of knowledge, experience and talent; and welcomes, respects and values the unique contribution of every individual.
ONE unashamedly advocates in support of veterans, particularly on behalf of those who are less fortunate. The majority of veterans, irrespective of the length of service, are very successful in new careers or happy in retirement. However, there is quite a number who need help from time to time. There is a dual challenge in providing this help: ignorance of the issue and ignoring the issue. Both of these have to be addressed. The Sleeping Flags Awareness Campaign, launched in February of 2019, was aimed at those who were ignorant of the plight of some of our veterans. We must constantly work on awareness and ensure that those who are aware don’t just ignore the issuers involved.
Remembrance is a key pillar of ONE and it is therefore appropriate that the annual Fuchsia Appeal is launched at the Defence Forces National Memorial in Merrion Square. Remembrance serves to bring to mind, and keep in mind, those who have made the ultimate sacrifice and who we must always honour. We must also remember those veterans who for some reason or another become homeless or others that need our support.