Peacekeepers’ Association Finland is a veterans’ organisation and expert body in crisis management that is acknowledged by society, plays a nationally significant role and takes care of its own. The association particularly influences the development of benefits for crisis management veterans.
Its further task is to follow the terms and conditions of the employment relationships of peacekeepers on duty and draw up proposals for developing them as necessary. The association also contributes to general peace education.
The association is an acknowledged and independent national defence organisation that participates in voluntary national defence work and the operations of the National Defence Training Association of Finland at all levels together with other national defence organisations and actors.
In voluntary national defence, the association is focused on supporting the Finnish Defence Forces and other security authorities in utilising experience in crisis management in national defence and overall security. We continue collaborating with associations for the veterans who fought in wars involving Finland. We represent all Finnish veterans and their traditions in the World Veterans Federation.
Peacekeepers’ Association Finland brings together all Finns who have served in peacekeeping and crisis management missions in a single organisation and serves as an advocate for its members.
Peacekeepers’ Association Finland and its member associations organise various activities around the year. The association also seeks benefits for crisis management veteran card holders and maintains a list of these.
The focus of the international cooperation of Peacekeepers’ Association Finland is on Nordic collaboration. The content of the collaboration is focused on support for crisis management veterans. Nordic collaboration has been an important reference in developing a support system for crisis management veterans.
We also represent the associations for the veterans who fought in wars involving Finland in the World Veterans Federation (WVF) by actively participating in the federation’s Secretariat Management Team and the activities of the Standing Committee on European Affairs (SCEA) as well as the WVF General Assembly organised once in three years.
Veterans of the new era
After completing their service, peacekeepers are veterans, whether they are in their thirties or more mature, men or women. People do not always know how they should react to these veterans of the new era: peacekeepers returning from their foreign duties often have no visible – or even invisible – injuries. As a matter of fact, most of them return back home in good shape, in good spirits, stronger and more experienced than before – and rightly so. Nevertheless, many struggle with returning to their old, everyday lives, and we won’t hesitate to admit this these days: there’s high demand for expertise by experience and peer support.
Forms of peer support are constantly developing. Follow our activities and posts at the Facebook page of Peacekeepers’ Association Finland www.facebook.com/rauhanturvaajaliitto and in our Instagram profile www.instagram.com/rauhanturvaajliitto.
The Funding Centre for Social Welfare and Health Organisations (STEA) supports Peacekeepers’ Association Finland in developing peer support activities.
Peer support is available for everyone, whether or not they are our members.
Peacekeepers’ Association Finland provides peer support for all peacekeepers, whatever their age and gender, including both current and former peacekeepers and their loved ones, young and old alike.
The aim of voluntary peer support is to support the coping and well-being of peacekeepers and their loved ones before, during and after their service. Joint recreational activities and peer support often prevent experiences that weigh on your mind from getting too big. Peacekeepers’ Association Finland organises training and guidance for peer support persons.
The main theme in all the international events was increasing the veteran status and veteran support and its development. We also aim to raise overall awareness of veterans’ organisations and veterans and their needs and goals. The collaboration between associations is supported by the Nordic Defence Cooperation (NORDEFCO) which also deals with veterans’ issues.
Peacekeepers’ and their loved ones’ exceptional life stage during missions
Peacekeeping has evolved into a highly demanding form of crisis management.
Since 1956, nearly 50,000 Finns have served in peacekeeping and crisis management missions. All these operations have involved, and continue to involve, dangerous situations and challenges related to day-to-day life. The peacekeeping mission affects the well-being of peacekeepers and their loved ones.
During their mission, both peacekeepers and their loved ones may be exposed to stress and traumatic experiences. Sufficient information about stress factors before, during and after service helps to process and cope with the experience.
Preparing for the mission together with others can make it an enriching experience. By contrast, a lack of preparation may lead to unreasonable strain.
Peer support is a form of expertise by experience
A social support network helps processing stressful experiences. The peer support activities aim to also reach those peacekeepers without a natural social support network as well as their loved ones.
The peer support activities and operations of local associations of Peacekeepers’ Association Finland offer help and support in building networks. The expertise by experience of peacekeepers and their loved ones is emphasised in the voluntary peer support. If necessary, we can refer you to get professional help.
LEAVING NO ONE BEHIND. EVER.
As peacekeeping veterans, we’ve adopted the idea that our war veterans have always endorsed. We didn’t invent it. And we don’t want to take credit for it. But we strongly want to uphold the same spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood where we will always help our peers and are also willing to receive help from others.
As peacekeepers, we’ve had an opportunity to expand our worldviews. We have seen what war can do to a person; how senseless war is and how there are no winners. Nearly everyone says that no one has ever returned back home unchanged. Most of us come back stronger. With higher self-esteem and trust in our abilities. Learned to appreciate Finland as a good country. With resilience that is on a whole new level. With the insight into how pointless it is to complain about small things.
But we will not turn a blind eye to the fact that, for some, the experiences from the operation leave a negative mark, wounds that can’t be seen. They may keep reliving their experiences in their sleep, feel like their lives have come to a standstill and that nothing feels like anything. It seems impossible to get back to regular life. Some are left wondering how they’re still haunted by something that happened decades ago.
The volunteers at Peacekeepers’ Association Finland provide low-threshold peer support. We have found that often all you need is to have someone look straight at you, focus and listen. And if there’s a need for more profound support, we are well-familiar with the support system that has been created over a long period of time that will provide the support you need. We can refer our members to professional care, and will even walk you to the appointment if necessary. From that point on, experts will provide all the help you need, including therapy, follow-up care and guidance. Many have made an excellent recovery from huge setbacks. And even if there are some wounds that never fully heal, life can still go on.
We can only imagine the horror that our war veterans and others who have lived through war have faced. But we have plenty of knowledge about the experience of having someone to help you and offering support to others. After all, we know from experience what peacekeepers have lived through, including both highly positive as well as painful experiences.
Through our training, we want to learn to support our sisters and brothers even better.
We are not professionals in peer support activities, but we want to learn to help. We share our experiences and always help our peers. We are proud to keep the tradition of our war veterans alive: “Leaving no one behind.”