I returned home in mid 1968 and was discharged almost immediately. I then went back to the job I had in 1966 and carried on with my life as if nothing had happened. But it had happened and forty years later in 2008 I was officially diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress. Like a very large percentage of us (veterans) from all over the world my first reaction was ’’that’s bullshit’’. By that time I was on the bones of my arse, I’d split from family and I’d lost many friends.
The saving grace was that I qualified for a disability pension which became a financial bonus. However I was told that one of the stipulations was that I couldn’t work anymore. That is a trap in itself because if all you have to do all day is to sit around and watch television then the demons in your head will take over. Subconsciously, for forty years I had become a workaholic which is nature’s way of trying to fight back. So I had to do something.
For all you Baseball fans, the national sport of Australia is cricket and before I was in the Army I was pretty good at it. So when I left the Army I started to play again and by 1971 I was picked to play on the national team. The end result of that is that I became the only person in the world to fight in a war and play international cricket since 1945.
By 2010 I had made a lot of good contacts in Defense, I had done a lot of research into PTS and it was obvious that it remained quite a mystery to our Federal Government, the medical and academic fraternity and the country as a whole. I had just spent forty years in the advertising world so I decided that my way to keep busy was to get involved in increasing the national awareness for this illness. I formed a not for profit company which markets itself as ‘’Stand Tall for PTS’’. We are now getting some traction and the support of our Prime Minister and the Chief of the Defence Force.
2015 is a very significant year in the national history and the military history of Australia. The landing at Gallipoli in 1915 has played a very significant part in the molding of our national persona. It was the birth of what we call the Anzac Spirit and now 100 years later we are commemorating this. For 100 years PTS has flown under the radar so now was a perfect opportunity to do something significant. So, in September of this year we are working on the emotion attached to this year and we are staging an International Forum for PTS to help formulate a plan forward for our government and maybe other governments too.
We have drawn in collaboration from just about every academic and medical expert in our country, we are bringing together all of the various groups involved in many different forms of treatment and we are talking to interested parties from the USA and Canada as well. This needs to be an event where we listen to everyone’s ideas and points of view so that we can arrive at the best outcome possible. In America we are working closely with Rick Collins from VETERANS 360 to help source interested parties who would like to participate and bring their ideas to the event.
We are also very excited about our involvement in Veterans 360’s Global Awareness event, Carry The Challenge. As the Australian coordinators of this fabulous initiative we look forward to contributing to its success.