Derek was born in Scotland but enlisted in the Navy soon after becoming an Australian citizen. He loved his time in the Navy and would do it all again – the most difficult thing was leaving behind his wife of 23 years. Prior to enlisting, they had only ever been apart for a week.
Initially joining as a reserve diver, Derek enjoyed the Navy life so much that he joined full-time shortly after. Following the advice of his divisional officer at recruit school, he joined full time as a Combat Systems Operator (Mine Warfare).
Derek’s fondest memory is going to recruit school with his son. They joined at the same time and were both in the same division. It made them even closer as father and son and for both of them it was an amazing time.
During his time in the Navy, Derek visited the Solomon Islands to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the battle of Guadalcanal and in particular, the memorial service on the 9 August 2012 for HMAS Canberra. He was serving on HMAS Gascoyne when, together with HMAS Huon, the ship positioned itself over the final resting place of HMAS Canberra (I), laid wreaths and remembered the 84 men who lost their lives during the Battle of Savo Island.
Derek was medically discharged from the Navy after seven years as a result of back and knee injuries.
He has had four knee operations on both knees and now requires back surgery. At the time of discharge, he felt he had let his work mates down due to injury - like he was always breaking himself and this led to a feeling of uselessness.
Derek struggles daily adjusting to civilian life. He misses being part of the Navy and was incredibly proud to be a part of it.
He is now studying Psychology and Counselling and hopes to work in child protection.
“Without RSL DefenceCare I would not have any accepted conditions from DVA.
“I recently found out I suffer from Graves Disease, which can make my memory bad and I get frustrated with myself. My advocate has the patience of a saint allowing for my mood or memory. Thanks to this help, I can now get the treatment I need without the worry of how I am going to pay for it.
“I would say without RSL DefenceCare, I would be lost in an unfamiliar world of bureaucracy and red tape. I doubt I would have any of my conditions recognised and accepted. Thank you RSL DefenceCare. I am in your debt.”
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