About Veteran Mentors

Veteran Mentors’ youth military programs are designed to assist children, aged 12-17, to become accountable for both their behaviour and decisions. These programs are ideal for children addicted to technology or who are demonstrating poor behaviours, low self-esteem and lack of respect. They’re also ideal for propelling youth to reach their fullest potential.

Throughout their respective military careers, the Veteran Mentors have learned and implemented many effective strategies in achieving success in the most challenging environments. These strategies and skills include mental and physical resilience, effective communication, conflict resolution and fear/stress management.

Since leaving the army, the Veteran Mentors are dedicated to teaching these skills and providing help for troubled teens. They’re also mindful of doing so in a way that students can successfully implement them after the program has finished.

About our youth military programs

Our Programs are not only for children or teenagers who are experiencing difficulties. All teenagers, aged 12-17, from Australia, and around the world, can benefit from this Program. It is fun, challenging, and arms them with the skills and resilience needed to forge into adulthood and the workforce.

Our aim is to improve family relationships, contribute to safer communities and enrich the lives of our participants. Participants will be accountable for their behaviours and handed the skills required to get past them. This allows them the opportunity to start fresh with leadership qualities, higher self-esteem and greater resilience.

It takes a village to raise a child

The Veteran Mentors team consists of several highly trained ex service men and women, each with an equal passion for working with youth and giving back to the community. Meet our key Veteran Mentors.

Glenn Filtness
Director

Glenn enlisted into the Australian Army in 2005 as a Communications Specialist. In 2008 he was deployed to Afghanistan on Reconstruction Task Force 4. In 2010 Glenn posted to the 1st Commando Regiment and deployed to Afghanistan again in 2011 and 2014. During his deployment in 2011, he was promoted to the rank of Corporal. He discharged from full-time service in 2016 and used his military experience to set up a successful group physical fitness business. Alongside this Glenn began volunteering for Soldier On, training wounded soldiers and improving their lives by promoting a healthy lifestyle and getting outdoors.  Glenn now uses his military experience to better the lives of Australia’s youth, focussing on his knowledge of physical fitness and nutrition to help them reach their goals and improve their physical and mental well being.

Troy Methorst
Director

In 2003, Troy enlisted into the Australian army as a combat engineer. In 2004, he was deployed to East Timor on Operation Spire as a peacekeeper with the U.N before being promoted to the rank of Corporal in 2009. He was then deployed to Afghanistan on Operation Slipper as a search team commander.

During his military career, Troy completed numerous specialty courses, but of note was the Combat Fitness Leader. This course set Troy up for a post-military life as a fitness instructor and personal trainer. Since leaving the army in 2013, Troy has worked in the Fitness Industry as a personal trainer, group fitness instructor and as an outdoor education leader. He has also found a passion for mentoring participants on our youth military programs and help them reach their potential. 

Matthew French
Director

Matthew enlisted into the Australian army in 2010 as a riflemen/paratrooper. In 2012, he was deployed to Afghanistan as part of Mentoring Taskforce 5. It was his job to provide mentoring, training and close-combat support on the battlefield to the Afghan National Army. Matthew would provide this support and mentorship throughout Afghanistan often in harsh and remote locations for weeks and months at a time. His overall mission was to teach the Afghans skills he learned as a combat soldier. This included care for battlefield casualties, combat operations, maintenance of weapon systems and health and wellbeing.

Matthew discharged from the military in 2015 and concentrated on his family life, personal training and mentoring on our youth military programs. His passion is to share the skills he has learned in the military with children to help them to be able to adapt to stressful situations and overcome adversity.

Adam Tanner
NSW Platoon Commander

Adam has gained immense knowledge and experience after serving fifteen years in the military, where he enjoyed several different disciplines before completing his service as the Sniper Supervisor of 3RAR.

After Discharge, Adam transferred his energy into Youth work, designing and running workshops for disengaged youth in schools and Indigenous Pathways programs. Specialising in behaviour management, he soon gained a reputation for getting results.

Adam holds various qualifications in Youth Work and Workplace Training and Assessment, as well as Mental Health and Leadership. He now successfully runs a vocational team for the largest youth mental health organisation in Australia.

A proud father and husband, Adam enjoys spending time with his family.

Heather Crosland
Counsellor

Heather is a Psychology Graduate of 2019 and has gained collaborative knowledge and understanding of the brain, behaviour and health of the mind and body.

Due to her immense passion for health, Heather also achieved her Exercise Professional and Personal Training qualification and now runs her own business that emphasises holistic health and empowers her love for positive psychology. Heather has experience in coaching and mentoring physical fitness and counselling, and has an empathetic nature and bright, approachable personality.

Heather has also gained experience in business, committing to her Post Graduate Masters of Business Psychology program, before choosing to pursue a path in education and physical and mental health mentoring and later joining the Veteran Mentors team.

Sam Balmer
QLD Platoon Commander | 1 on 1 Mentoring Manager

Sam served in the Australian Army as a Combat Engineer for a period of 12 years.
During his service he was deployed on numerous occasions including Afghanistan as a High Risk Search Commander. Sam discharged from the military in 2020 as a Sergeant and brings a wealth of experience in the management and mentoring of people.

Sam brings a competitive spirit focussed on a high level of physical and mental health having represented Australia in basketball and playing in the VFL in his younger years.

Now a loving father of two children, Sam understands the challenges that parents face on a day to day basis with their children and aims to bring parents and children closer whilst drawing on his personal experiences.

Sarah Sliwka
Senior Mentor

Sarah enlisted in the Australian Army as a linesman in Signals Corp where she was one of the few women in the trade countrywide. She spent a year in the Ceremonial Drill, Australian Federation Guard, and later represented the Army in the AFL where she ran several squads. 

Sarah discharged in 2006; she was never deployed, but that didn’t stop her from continuing with her passion for fitness. She committed herself to be involved in the health and fitness world as a personal trainer, a bodybuilding judge, an athlete, and a figure competitor. 

Sarah has seen many wins in her competitive career and continues to see wins in her job as a Veteran Mentor. She loves helping children realize their potential, all while teaching them about her passions.

Melinda Baldissera
Senior Mentor

Melinda enlisted in the Australian Army at the age of 18, specialising in the field of Logistics as an Operator Supply. During her seven years of service, she deployed to Afghanistan for eight months and represented her state in multiple sports. She was also presented with awards for excellence in her field, followed by being promoted to the rank of Corporal.

Outside of work you can find Melinda travelling, playing sport, going to the gym, and volunteering with the Ambulance Service.

Melinda loves working with Veteran Mentors because it allows her to support Australian youth as they navigate adolescence. She believes it is her duty to guide them into making the best life choices for their futures.

Hamish Young
Medic

Currently serving as a Combat Medic in the Australian Army Reserve and as a Risk Management Consultant within the Film & TV industry, Hamish brings a diverse skill set and passion for providing risk management, harm minimisation and healthcare to youths with complex medical and pharmaceutical history.

Hamish’s tertiary qualifications include a Bachelor of Paramedic Practice (UTAS), Bachelor of Pharmacy & Management (USYD, due to graduate 2023), and currently studying his Master of Occupational Health, Safety and Environmental Management (ACU). Hamish is an AHPRA registered Paramedic, and Pre-Provisional Pharmacist undertaking provisional training.

Hamish deployed in support of indigenous troops on Operation Resolute in 2020 and was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal, along with representing the Australian Army in the Inter-services Alpine Snowsports Championships. His professional projects and passions have included the development of Covid Mitigation Plans and Risk Management processes for various major Film & TV Clients, including the ABC, Channel 10, SBS, and Nickelodeon.

Henry Hudson
Indigenous Support Mentor

Since joining the Army Reserve in 2007 at the age of seventeen, Henry has worked his way up as an Infantry soldier to hold the rank of Corporal.

Throughout his career, he has been deployed on both domestic and international soil. Henry has also been awarded a Soldiers Medallion after performing a life-saving medical evacuation.

Currently studying School-Based Education Support and working as a Student Learning Support Officer (SLSO), Henry is both attentive and compassionate to all students.

As a proud Darkinjung man, he consistently volunteers in Aboriginal Community events within his local area and continues to learn more about his culture.

Henry firmly believes it is his duty to provide young Australians with the necessary tools they need to grow into mentally and physically strong men and women.

Nigel McMullen
Indigenous Support Mentor
A proud Wiradjuri man, Nigel has always had a spiritual connection to the land and the heart of a warrior. His desire to protect our lands from any threat lead to his passion to serve his country.

Nigel enlisted and joined the Australian Army Reserves in 2001 as a Rifleman. He soon deployed on Operation Acolyte in support of the Commonwealth games. By 2007 he transferred to Armoured core in the full-time Australian Army and deployed to Afghanistan.

Whilst serving, he made the rank of Corporal and was an ASLAV Crew Commander for 16 years in the Australian Army.

Since medical discharge, Nigel has engaged in work with fellow veterans as well as his local RSL Sub branch and other Ex-Service Organisations in his hometown in Wagga.

Being a Veteran Mentor has enabled Nigel to work alongside his fellow brothers and sisters to help shape the future of this amazing country we call home. Nigel continues to connect and build on the knowledge and skills learnt in the ADF with a focus on courage, resilience and respect.

Aaron Giltrow
Indigenous Support Mentor

Aaron is a 1st Nation person from the Darkinjung family. Aaron first joined the military at age 18 in 2009 and was an infantry soldier throughout his 7-year career.

In 2012, Aaron deployed to Afghanistan for a 6-month rotation as part of the 3RAR parachute battalion. Towards the end of his service, Aaron was promoted to Corporal and was posted to Mortar Platoon.

Post-military service, Aaron spent 3 years rebuilding his self-esteem, and confidence and re-establishing his life outside of the military. In 2020, he began working in visibility support, which lead to his first Veteran Mentors course.

Veteran Mentors allowed him to understand and grow from his own personal trauma in a safe and supportive environment. Doing this has helped him be able to relate to the kids and demonstrate positive outcomes in life, even with the traumas we may experience.

Max Garcia
Senior Mentor

Max is the only US Marine Sergeant Major speaking in Australia and is an Amazon #1 best-selling author with Joe Vitale. Having led the largest battalion of Marines worldwide, Max inspires Members of Parliament, professional athletes, corporations, youth and more!

Joining the Marines in 1994, Max has embarked on multiple deployments, including in Europe, Iraq, and Afghanistan. In 2004, Max was awarded the combat action ribbon and a medal for “Valor” from General Mattis, the former Minister of Defense.

From 2006 to 2009, Max taught officers at the University of South Florida and was a Drill Instructor for Officer Candidates before deploying to Afghanistan. In 2012, Max served with FAST Company Europe, where he collaborated in sending a platoon of elite Marines to Libya when the consulate was attacked and the ambassador killed in Benghazi.

In 2014, Max was selected for Sergeant Major, the top enlisted rank in the Marines. He then transferred to Japan and deployed to multiple countries in the Pacific. Impressively, Max has travelled to all 50 US states and over 70 countries.

James Fisher
Senior Mentor

Jimmy served in the Australian army as a rifleman for a period 5 years. Deploying to Iraq at just 21 as a section 2ic and platoon CFA Jimmy has developed a large array of knowledge and experience in team management and mentoring.

Throughout his childhood and adult career, Jimmy has represented his state and country in a number of sports including Soccer, rugby league, touch football, kyokushin karate and futsal, developing a strong mindset of “you can achieve anything you put your mind to” and now owns his own training facility to help pass on this message.

Coming from a broken home and a troublesome childhood, Jimmy understands the struggles and adversity that children of this generation face and hopes to assist them in the right direction, using his personal experiences.

David Royles
Senior Mentor

David enlisted in the army at age 17 as an Aslav Crewman and served for just under 6 years. During this time he deployed to Afghanistan on MTF-1 at only 19 years old, one of the youngest members of his battlegroup.

Like many others, David struggled with mental health during and post service for many years. He now uses this experience to help others overcome their own struggles. David has played and competed in many sports throughout his life, including representative level soccer in his younger years. He now competes in the sport of strongman, winning many state level titles in the Under 80’s division, with multiple invites to nationals.

David loves mentoring and draws upon lived experience to help bring out the best in others.

Seb Harrison
Senior Mentor

Seb served in the Australian Army for 8 years as a Heavy Diesel Mechanic. He deployed to the Afghanistan and the Middle East in 2015, as well as assisting in Army Aboriginal Community Assistance Programme from 2013 to 2017. Previously working as a swim instructor and a Volunteer fire fighter in the NSW RFS. He loves teaching and giving back to the community.

Currently serving as a Plain Clothes Police Officer in the Queensland Police Service, with a high knowledge of juvenile crime and an understanding of the stresses this causes in the home environment. He is very passionate about leading youths away from offending and supporting them in decision making and accountability.

Our key supporters

Providing quality programs for participants couldn’t happen without the help of our key supporters.

Rob Ritchie – Parent Workshop Facilitator

Robert Ritchie is the founder of Positive Difference, a consultancy which aims to assist organisations to optimise the wellbeing, performance and leadership capacity of their people.

Rob presents Short Courses in Applied Positive Psychology and Positive Leadership at premium venues throughout Australia and New Zealand. Rob also delivers tailored workshops to a range of government, education, health and corporate organisations. He trains aspiring educational leaders on behalf of the Queensland Education Leadership Institute, and business leaders in Central Queensland on behalf of Capricorn Enterprise. Rob’s background is in academic and wellbeing leadership roles in several schools throughout Queensland. He has also worked as a counsellor in private practice and as a sessional lecturer at Griffith University.

As a parent of two now-adult children, Rob is proud to facilitate the Parent Workshop for Veteran Mentors.

www.positivedifference.com.au

John Guy – Vietnam Veteran and guest speaker

Sadly, John Guy passed away in January 2023. He was a passionate advocate for Veteran Mentors, a powerful role model, dear friend, and lived a rich life of service. You will be sorely missed.

John Guy spent nearly a year ‘behind enemy lines’ serving his country in Vietnam as a forward scout with the highly secretive and coveted Special Air Service Regiment (SAS).  He was selected for officer training from the battlefield and was subsequently awarded the Sword of Honour for exemplary conduct and outstanding performance of duty, the New Zealand Army Board Leadership Prize, and the Officer Cadet School Leadership Prize.

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John went on to spend two years in Papua New Guinea absorbing the Anzac spirit of Kokoda and spending months with his Pacific Island Regiment soldiers in the jungles speaking no English and seeing the world from a very different but majestic angle.  He then served for two years with the legendary Gurkhas on exchange with the British Army. This is where he sealed his learning on the peaceful warrior who is a true ‘gentleman.’ The Gurkhas, the toughest warriors on earth, were hailed in the British press when they arrived in England as ‘God’s gentlemen’.

He returned home to an Australia resentful of the military presence in Vietnam and that seemed to mock everything he stood for and so he went to University in uniform.  He saw there the opposite of what he had been learning among true warriors while being abused and assaulted by people proclaiming the way of peace!  It was during this time that John witnessed a youth suicide and tripped over the statistics showing that ten times the Australian casualty rate in Vietnam was being claimed by suicide in this country (it is now forty times) and no one was protesting.  Indeed, if leadership is measured by morale, he noted that there clearly was a major gap in this skill in Australia that needed to be addressed fully and urgently.

The next chapter

John has a degree in Psychology and Philosophy and graduate qualifications in leadership from the Command and Staff College. He also attained senior Major status after serving for 21 years in the military. Since 1986, he has dedicated his life to turning despair in people into joy and productivity.  He and his wife did this for 30 years running camps and seminars through Bush Venture.

While retired from Bush Venture, John delivers a powerfully unique and totally amazing talk on ‘leadership with courage and honour’.  He also delivers a seminar on ‘Australian Leadership’ and he facilitates two-day ‘Life Focus Retreats’.

Mark Robinson – Dietitian

Health Man Mark is the Fitness Industry’s Leading Dietitian and one of Australia’s most published cover and editorial models. He’s also appeared on the covers of some of the worlds biggest fitness publications such as Iron Man Magazine US.

www.healthmanmark.com

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Being a Qualified Dietitian with three university degrees including a Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics and Bachelors in Exercise Science and Psychology, Mark knows what it takes to stay in optimal shape year-round. This has helped him achieve his goals and the goals of many others.

Mark won a World Fitness Model Title in 2013 and has since coached many athletes to get into their best shape and compete at the highest level. Mark has also judged and MC’d Natural Fitness Shows around the world and has become a recognised Host of popular fitness events.

Mark has always maintained integrity within the fitness industry. He is a devoted natural athlete who sets an example to his clients and friends that hard-working self-discipline with consistency and patience and a clean diet is the key to results.

It is for these reasons that the name ‘Health Man Mark’ is so well suited. Mark embodies a healthy lifestyle truly walking the talk and with the backing of multiple years of study. Mark runs his own Online Coaching, Dietitian and Training business. He also regularly presents Seminars at Fitness Expo’s and to schools, corporates, athletes and fellow fitness enthusiasts.

Mark has featured on National TV ‘The Today Show’ as an expert Dietitian voice for nutrition knowledge and as a health advocate. It is fair to say Mark is a reliable, educated source for health information.

Singing Ring – Australia

A Singing Ring is a crystal-infused metal sound bowl which creates an abundance of harmonic overtones. The rich sound is scientifically proven to have the meditative and healing effect on the brains. After the meditation or personal session, many people experience; a deep sense of happiness, relaxation and calmness. It’s also said to encourage a clearer mind, clearer eyesight, feeling lighter,  better sleep, relieving pain, new inspirations and so on. As a result, people become healthier and happier.

Singing Ring Australia strives to assist people in improving their health and mental being. They do this by bringing harmony into people’s lives so and impacting them in a positive way.

www.singingring.com.au

Melissa McGuiness: You Choose Youth Road Safety

YOU CHOOSE Youth Road Safety is a not-for-profit charity described as ‘Australia’s youth-led mission to change driving culture’.

In 2012 co-founders Melissa and Peter McGuinness’s 18-year-old son, Jordan, made driving choices which took the lives of four innocent young people, including his own.

The YOU CHOOSE program takes an innovative, social-project approach to road safety education for teens, which focuses on peer-advocacy as integral to changed behaviours and attitudes. Developed to complement orthodox skills and re-enactment courses, YOU CHOOSE places participants into profound personal reflection about connections between intentions, choices, actions and loved ones. They are equipped to give each other permission in advance to speak up and to act in favour of good choices in moments-that-matter.

youchooseyrs.org.au

Kaiko Fidgets

Kaiko Fidgets are unique sensory tools co-founded by the inspiring Kai and his Occupational Therapist mum, Jo, who has 25+ years of experience in mental health and disability.

These valuable tools help youth and adults by helping to alleviate emotional distress, focus better and help to cultivate better mental health.

Now a family-run business, Kaiko Fidgets has a global presence and is helping thousands.

kaikofidgets.com

Dylan Conway: Brothers and Books

Brothers and Books is a nation wide charity aimed at changing the culture of education in Australia. We encourage organisations to utilise reading and bibliotherapy as a means to reduce stress within the workforce but also promote self-development and education within teams.

Brothers and Books is proud to support Veteran Mentors and is an avid supporter of their course which is closely aligned with the discipline, learning and community values that we also try to uphold.

Donate to Brothers and Books