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A day in the life of ... Brett Gallagher

A day in the life of ... Brett Gallagher

A day in the life of ... Brett Gallagher

25 April 2022

Major Brett Gallagher, Chief Commissioner of The Salvation Army Red Shield Defence Services.

The Salvation Army Red Shield Defence Services (RSDS) is comprised of men and women who live and work with Australia’s defence personnel and support them in their time of need.

These Salvo representatives have provided comfort and ministered practically and spiritually to soldiers in different conflicts around the world for more than 120 years. From the Sallymen in the Second Boer War to Chaplain-Major William ‘Fighting Mac’ McKenzie at Gallipoli, spiritual and emotional support, and acts of kindness and bravery have characterised the RSDS.  

Today, the RSDS continues to be a presence in Australian military life, proudly serving those who serve, and their families. Representatives are available to support units and members, at all levels, on base, in the field, overseas, in peacetime, and during hostilities. Wellbeing support and care is also given to families, particularly spouses, of serving members. 

Major Brett Gallagher, Chief Commissioner of The Salvation Army Red Shield Defence Services, gives us a snapshot of what his job involves.

Can you give us an overview of your role?

I lead the team of Salvation Army representatives that are embedded in defence units around the country. Through the presence and support of these reps, the RSDS provides care, counsel, and physical support.   

What’s the first thing you do when you arrive at work (even if that’s at home!)?  

Water my plants and check my plan for the day, triage my emails, and get to work on my first task.  

What can a typical day involve for you? 

The RSDS supports defence personnel on the ground in Australia and overseas.

Every day is different. Some days I will be prepping for a meeting with Defence or Salvation Army leadership; other days, I am making sure that all the administrative processes are running well for the team; and still others, I can be getting our Sallyman [RSDS reps are often referred to as the Sallyman or Sallyma’am] truck ready and heading out to spend time with serving men and women, listening to their stories, and sharing the love of Jesus through practical means.    

What’s the most challenging part of your work? 

That no day looks the same, and that at a moment’s notice things can change – and change rapidly. But I love the challenge, and it is what motivates me to keep on turning up.  

What’s the most rewarding? 

Seeing people’s lives transformed whether physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually.  

How has COVID-19 affected your work? 

For a while it meant that we were unable to spend time with those to which we minister. But the team is a creative bunch that loves the people in their units, so they thought of ways to continue to connect, to continue to reach out, and continue to minister. 

Why is ANZAC Day so important? 

ANZAC Day is possibly the most solemn of all our national days. It provides an opportunity to reflect not only on the first to put up their hand for our country but all who have put up their hand. It is a time of commemoration, of reflection, and of remembrance, and as we do that as communities and individuals, we are called to never forget the sacrifice of those who have gone before so that we can live lives of peace. 

Is there anything else you would like to add? 

I would like to encourage everyone to take some time this ANZAC Day to pause, to go to a place of remembrance and spend time reflecting on the meaning of sacrifice and the call from those who have been before to seek all means for peace. 





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