Graeme served for almost 20 years in South East Asia and the Pacific in the Royal Australian Navy. He was discharged suffering from a mood disorder. Looking back, Graeme recalls how serving his country impacted on his family and his own mental health.
Graeme was away for up to nine months a year. “I missed all the birthdays and family occasions and after a while, I was not part of the family anymore. I was a visitor.” After being torn away from his family for one too many times, Graeme and his wife separated. Graeme had no choice but to continue his service and he didn’t talk to anyone aboard the ship about his troubles. “That was when I started drinking to cope with my wife leaving me. I didn’t speak up and admit that I needed help. It just wasn’t done.”
Graeme was medically discharged and eventually contacted RSL DefenceCare for help. RSL DefenceCare helped Graeme with his entitlements and his claims have now been accepted. This has been a huge relief and will allow Graeme to better manage his mental health. RSL DefenceCare also helps with counselling and paying urgent bills for his ex-wife and children.
Graeme is now using new strategies to deal with his mental conditions such as going for walks, swimming and talking to a psychologist or friends when he feels he needs to. His future is looking brighter and is looking at studying animal husbandry or zoology as a new career path.
Please give what you can so veterans, like Graeme, and their family members are looked after like they deserve to be.