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.

Garry's Story

The biggest thing I had to deal with was the nightmares & flashblacks

I'm Garry Robinson, I'm a Sergeant in the Australian Defence Force, I've served 21 years in the army.

We were flying at nighttime during a period of darkness and unfortunately we just hit the hill. My best mate was killed who was sat next to me, and two other good friends from the Australian Defence Force. I was severely wounded with numerous cuts and lacerations to my body, numerous broken bones, and all i can remember is waking up in hospital in Westmead after being in a coma for numerous weeks, 6 weeks.

I'm no longer the Garry that I used to know, I'm now the Garry who is an amputee, and has a brain injury. I was lucky I survived, I don't know how I did, but reading back through all my injuries, even the doctors said I definitely shouldn’t have survived.

I’ve had what they call PTSD, severe anxiety and depression issues. I’ve broke many TVs and you know, punched and kicked holes in walls just trying to relive that frustration and anger so to speak, probably more confronting for Katrina than myself. I couldn’t control it. Seeing the psychiatrist and psychologist I’ve sort of come to the understanding of the medication I need to be on.

Katrina - “We just had to as a family, work out how to help him and cope with it.”

Garry - “DefenceCare I think early in the piece took my son to watch a game of the State of Origin.”

Katrina - “They helped with that and its good to know that when he is transitioning that they’ll be there. Its sort of getting back to the new normal, instead of trying to get back to how you used to be. Its took a long time to do that.”

Help our veterans fight their new enemies. Text ‘CARE’ to 1900 11 11. ($5/message received, 25c/message sent)

DefenceCare, Always there.

Garry Robinson

East Timor / Afghanistan veteran

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21 years a soldier including 11 in the Special Forces. Due to the nature of his tours, Garry is not allowed to reveal much of his time in war, with the exception being the two-week period leading up to the crash - and waking up in a hospital in Westmead, after spending time in a hospital in Germany. He was in a coma for 6 weeks. From there, it took countless hours with psychologists to get his mind to realise he was no longer in battle, and back into the real world.

The new enemies of war

lost friends and memories

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Garry discovered his best friend and two other close friends all died in the same crash he’d been involved in. He had lacerations, broken bones, a severe brain injury, an amputated limb and lost friends, which led to his battle with the new enemies of post-traumatic stress, depression and anxiety.

Back home, he developed anger issues over the fact he survived and his friends didn’t. This manifested itself in breaking TVs, punching holes in walls - uncontrollable bouts of rage in front of his family. Frustrated with his injuries that left him unable to do what he could do before, Garry spent around two years in total in hospital fighting his way back to being himself.

In my mind I’m still fighting overseas. I woke up in hospital and thought ‘what’s going on?’

The battles continue

new ways to fight

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While recovering, Christmas was an especially hard time for Garry, but DefenceCare was able to help his family. Now better, sport is one outlet for Garry’s anger and frustration. But Garry admits, he has had to shift his self-image to defeat his new enemies.

Rather than being the person he used to be, Garry has a new ‘normal’ - one that lets him function back in society, appreciate the world around him, and be the loving father and partner he was before.

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 see things and see people do things, and it creates this anger and anxiety inside me which I’ve got no control over