Meet the founder of VESPA

Helping Veterans and Emergency Services personnel Find Purpose Through Sport

After more than 30 years’ service with the British Armed Forces and Australian Defence Force, veteran and health and wellbeing manager Gary “Curtis” Steiger has taken the precision and discipline he applied to the Navy and used it to launch VESPA Parabiathalon.

VESPA supports medically discharged Defence Force and Emergency Services personnel to compete in the sport of biathlon, a rigorous Winter Olympic sport combining cross-country skiing with rifle marksmanship.

The competition challenges VESPA athletes physically and mentally but provides much needed support to rebuild their identity, sense of purpose, and community after service.

“The sport of biathlon is so challenging technically, physically and mentally that it’s the perfect sport to promote wellbeing among veterans who’ve been discharged medically from the service.”
“They’ve lost the comradery of the military, had their craft and profession taken from them.”

As a former ADF Biathlete himself, Curtis recognised that the challenges of biathlon would present.

“[Biathlon is] the perfect pleasureful toil for those of a certain mindset; particularly ADF Veterans forced to medically discharge.”

Athlete Taryn Dickens exemplifies VESPA’s mission.

“[Taryn] was struggling to get out of bed for the last 8 months and then she went cross country skiing for the first time, and it's given her purpose.”

Taryn was diagnosed with cone-rod dystrophy in May 2019, and works with Gigi, a Defence Community Dog, to help her navigate her vision impairment.

Retraining from Track Cycling to Nordic Skiing less than a year ago, Taryn has already been invited to take part in entry-level World Nordic Skiing events this year, putting her on track to fulfill her ambition of competing at the Winter Paralympics in 2026.

Curtis launched VESPA with the help of Prince’s Trust Australia’s free Enterprise programme. The Enterprise programme supports veterans and military partners to launch and grow small businesses and charities across Australia.

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The Enterprise programme is proudly sponsored by Accenture ANZ, the Australian Government Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Howden Group Holdings and SAAB Australia.

The Prince’s Trust Australia Enterprise programme received grant funding from the Australian Government to support veteran owned businesses.


Prince's Trust Australia is a national charity that helps young people prepare for the rapidly changing world of work, inspires veterans and their families into entrepreneurship and self-employment, and champions resilient sustainable communities.

Our work is inspired by our Founder and President, His Majesty King Charles III, and is driven by His vision for a more sustainable future.

We also work in partnership with our colleagues across The Prince’s Trust Group, a global network of charities transforming lives and building sustainable communities in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and across the Commonwealth. Together, we promote, support, and inspire people and their communities to flourish.

Since 2015, Prince's Trust Australia has been inspiring veterans and their families with the confidence, skills and networks they need to explore self-employment through the Enterprise Programme.

The programme is guided by an Advisory Council, chaired by the Governor-General, His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret’d) and attended by Major General Wade Stothart, Head of People Capability at Department of Defence.


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• Images and 1-minute social media video available to download via WeTransfer:

#beyondservice #buyveteran #PrincesTrustAU #vetrepreneur #YourADF #Navy #entrepreneur #sport #winterolympics #biathalon #VESPA #Invictus #VeteransSA

With thanks to filmmaker Noel Smyth: