John had a long career in the Army, spanning twenty-six years. From the time he was in primary school he always wanted to join the Army and his enthusiasm to be involved took him to several different countries. He spent time in Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia and Timor to name a few. John remembers his time in the Army fondly, with particularly strong memories of his time in South Australia and Timor.
Upon returning home from service John recalled that it was “anti-climactic and strange, I felt strange and it took a while to go away”. As time passed John’s mental state became increasingly unstable. He found that he couldn’t concentrate for long periods at work and often found himself staring blankly into the distance; John experienced a loss of appetite and began to cry uncontrollably, all the while denying that he may have PTSD.
John eventually reached out for help as his marriage fell apart under intense strain and his chronic depression. With support from his psychiatrist, John checked into a three week course at St John of God – North Richmond and began his journey of recovery.
Having spent time coming to terms with his own demons and regaining control of his life, John decided he was in a position to help others who had suffered like he had. John volunteered as part of RSL DefenceCare’s Peer to Peer Support Program and is now in a position to mentor and guide other veterans recovering from PTSD and other service related difficulties.
The Veteran Peer to Peer Support Program is designed to create a ‘helping relationship’ in the form of communication and visits between a peer and a peer mentor who have some similarities in experiences of military service and mental health challenges.
As part of the Peer to Peer Support Program, John remarked that “it feels good” to help others and he is glad that with his support, other veterans might be able to come back from their own struggles.
With support from mentors like John, and RSL DefenceCare, current and ex-serving men and women have people they can reach out to in times of need.
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