A long-awaited new centre has been opened at Collins Barracks, Cork, to provide mental health and psycho-social support for military personnel and their families.
Minister for Defence Simon Coveney cut the ribbon at the official opening of a new Personnel Support Service (PSS) Resource Centre in Collins Barracks on Monday.
The PSS provides support services to military personnel and their families.
The service provides information and advice relating to mental health, wellbeing, suicide awareness and prevention, coping with deployment, financial guidance, and support; as well as more specialised psycho-social support such as counselling and referral services.
The new resource centre, in a refurbished building within Collins Barracks, will also house the Veterans Support Centre, where veterans from Cork city and beyond can avail of support and social interaction with other former members of the Defence Forces family.
“With the times that we live in today, you don't need me to tell you why this is an important part of our Defence infrastructure,” said Minister Coveney, speaking at the opening ceremony.
“We need to make sure that when people do choose a career in the Defence Forces, that they are protected, supported, looked after, and not isolated. It’s facilities like this one that I think we can invest in to ensure that that is so.
“We are absolutely committed to continuing to invest in physical infrastructure like this one, and also to invest in the human resources that we need, to ensure that we have a modern, diverse, tolerant, and professional environment in the Defence Forces into the future,” he added.
The new centre is housed in a refurbished building in the Camp Field of Collins Barracks; a semi-detached house which had been originally built as married quarters and fallen into disrepair.
Three years on from the inception of plans for the Resource Centre, the disused building has been transformed by contractor Resolution Mode Limited into a fully equipped centre with offices, meeting rooms, and informal meeting areas.
The building’s retrofitting was a pilot project for the Defence Forces in terms of having focused climate action objectives, and the walls, windows and floor were given significant thermal upgrades to achieve a near zero energy building standard, with an A2 energy rating.
Commdt Des Connolly is the 1 Brigade Personal Services Officer responsible for provision of the PSS service.
He said the new Resource Centre is a fantastic new departure for the PSS team.
“The PSS Team who have been working since the inception of the PSS in 1993 have been operating in an older building in Collins Barracks, in cramped environments which are not really appropriate to the work that they do.
"When you look now at this modern, bright, spacious building, it offers the space to expand the service, and it's a welcoming space to go to.
"Hopefully it will attract more people to use the service, so it’s brilliant for us, it really will be great,” he said.