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.

Damien's Story

The enemies I faced when I got home were worse than the enemies I faced on the battlefield

My name's Damien Thomlinson, I served in the Royal Australian Infantry, part of the Special Operations Command from 2005.

I was on my first tour of Afghanistan, we were about a month into the tour, we were doing what’s called a direct action. We were in a convoy moving up the side of the mountain and my vehicle hit an improvised explosive device, and during that explosion the car was ripped apart, I lost my right leg, sort of half-way up my femur, my left leg just below the knee, my right arm was damaged really badly, my elbow was hanging out, right wrist broken, and left wrist was sort of pointing that way plus my nose almost got torn off and a couple of other scars that apparently make you look cooler, but that's still out to the jury. And from there it was the start of a really, really big process, and the opening of a new chapter. You know in the military you are, you know you're

You know I found I dealt with the PTSD, I dealt with depression, I was put in the position where I had serious self-image issues. In the military, physically you're proud of the way you look, you're proud of the fact that you served and all of a sudden, I could no longer serve in the capacity I wanted to and that was always being a commando in the special forces, that was it, you know that was my job and to me my identity.

For me I think “the enemies I faced when I got home were a lot worse than the enemies I faced on the battlefield. you know, for the simple face that you’re not ready for it. When you come back its the shock factor of ‘wow I didn't really expect this’, you know, Is it me, should I be stronger.

The work that I've done with DefenceCare, its been brilliant seeing they’d answered thousands of calls from veterans who are distressed, they’d assisted with counselling, its an amazing thing to have people like DefenceCare who do take care of that counselling side of it, that are on the other end of the phone when people really need it.

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

DefenceCare, Always there.

Damien Thomlinson

East Timor/ South Pacific/ Afghanistan veteran

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After tours in East Timor and the South Pacific, Damien was sent to Afghanistan. A month in, his convoy was hit by an improvised explosive device. The explosion ripped the car apart, and cost Damien his right leg, his left leg below the knee, badly damaged his right arm, broke his right wrist, left wrist, left hand and nose. He was discharged from the military in 2012.

The new enemies of war

depression back home

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His injuries were the start of a new chapter for Damien. Back home, after an unexpected departure from the battlefields, he found new enemies while adjusting to civilian life. Serious self-image issues from injuries put Damien at the complete opposite end of his commando identity - from being surrounded by friends and a support network in the military to feeling alone back in society, leading to depression and post-traumatic stress.

We were in a convoy moving up the side of the mountain at night and hit an improvised explosive that ripped the car apart

The battles continue

being down, not out

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It's the little things that can trigger a returned soldier. Skinny jeans were coming back in to fashion when Damien returned home. It's near impossible to wear skinny jeans with two prosthetic legs: one that's super thin and the other that's bowed out. But for Damien, finding support and helping others pave their way forward is what broke the cycle for him, and now keeps his new enemies at bay.

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).

I didn't expect this. Is it me? Should I be stronger? Is there a problem with me?