Veteran stories

FACING NEW ENEMIES

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Many Australian veterans return home only to face new enemies that make day to day life a constant battle. Read their stories and find out how you can help.

Brad's Story

I can't be a father when the symptoms are dragging me back to my past

My name's Brad Copelin, I was a soldier for 24 years, I served in Afghanistan and the Solomon Islands.

The nature of my work in Afghanistan - I had a specialist role there but I also spent a lot of time in the Forward Surgical Team area where the casualties were coming in. So here are kids, roughly the same age as what my kids are now, in a trauma ward, missing limbs. That incident itself that probably stayed with me the longest.

I eventually got discharged in 2011 after the 24 years. I had post-traumatic stress disorder, which was giving me anger, hyper-vigilance, anxiety and starting on depression as well.

My emotions - I can either go angry, or just start crying for silly reasons. My five your old will come up and climb up on me for a cuddle. My eldest daughter will ask me how i’m feeling, and see my crying and come over and give me a cuddle. And I don’t think that’s something they should have to put up with. Its hard, they shouldn’t have to think about things like that at their age, they should just have a happy, normal father.

I started getting involved as a volunteer just so that I could help them help other guys that were going through the same enemies that I face. Every donation that goes to them, goes to their front line, to help the veterans and their families. It all goes there, and the work that they do is absolutely brilliant.

Help our veterans fight their new enemies. Text CARE to 1990 1111* ($5/message received, 25c/message sent)

DefenceCare, Always there.

Brad Copelin

Solomon Islands & Afghanistan veteran

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A soldier for 24 years, he spent some of his time in Afghanistan as a Military Policeman at an aid post during the triage of casualties – the place causalities first come in. Soldiers. Locals. Children. It was this time from all his experience as a Military Policeman that caused him the most angst when he returned home. Six months later it was his wife who said Brad needed help.

The new enemies of war

nightmares & flashbacks

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Since returning from war, Brad was constantly anxious. He suffered from hyper-vigilance; always on alert in any situation – even at home. Nights were worse, suffering from nightmares and flashbacks to the battlefields of nine years earlier.

Out of the army, his post-traumatic stress led to a depression that made him unable to get out of bed, or function, for two years. The transition from being a career solider to being ‘Brad’ wasn’t working.

Here are kids, the same age as mine, in a trauma ward missing limbs

The battles continue

a solider and his family

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To this day, Brad continues fighting these enemies of war. With a wife and two young daughters, his symptoms affect them as much as him. Anxiety still rears its head – sights, sounds and smells trigger Brad back from being a Dad and a husband to being in Afghanistan.

He has to mentally prepare for the world outside his home every day. Brad says his daughters know far too much about depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress - these new enemies that drag him into the past over and over. His daughters are 9 and 5 years old.

Help us help them

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DefenceCare provides safe, compassionate and practical assistance to veterans and their families.

As well as help with claims, advocacy and referral for treatment, we provide counselling services and financial assistance when there’s no one else to turn to.

DefenceCare is dedicated to helping our veterans with life after war. Your donations help us help them. Text CARE to 1990 1111* ($5/message received, 25c/message sent).

My daughters know they can’t make loud noises around Dad. They’re 9 and 5.