Lee served within the Australian Army Infantry for almost 12 years. He served with the following regiments - Reserves 51st battalion FNQR, 1RAR, 6RAR and discharged in 2012.
Lee felt called to join the Australian Defence Force - he wanted to be of service. Being in the military seemed to him the best way to do this - and being an infantry soldier was the best option for him.
Deploying to Afghanistan in 2007 with 1RAR, and again 2010 with 6RAR, Lee left behind his daughter, girlfriend, parents, brothers and sisters.
Lee enjoyed deployment - he believed in what he was doing and loved doing it.
In 2007, Lee was blown up by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) and in 2008 was diagnosed with PTSD.
He began treatment with the aim of getting back to full duties as soon as he could and was successfully redeployed to Afghanistan with 6RAR in 2010.
Lee was very happy to be back doing his job; he was a career soldier. But soon he found himself unable to continue with regular duties due the debilitating effects of PTSD.
When he returned to Australia he began the long process of medical retirement and with it came feelings of profound disappointment as his fulfilling military career was over.
After almost a year, Lee found that he was unable to work, unable to maintain relationships, and barely able to function at all. He didn't understand what had happened. Lee kept trying to get on with life and kept failing.
It was at this time, that Lee found himself homeless – he was living in his car, facing bankruptcy, feeling completely hopeless and helpless.
Lee attended St. John of God Richmond Hospital, to receive treatment for his PTSD. It was here that he met other veterans, learnt about PTSD and how it affected him.
Lee has now become involved in RSL DefenceCare’s Veteran Peer to Peer Support Programme, delivered in partnership with St John of God Richmond Hospital.
The Veteran Peer to Peer Support Program helps with the recovery of ex-service Australian Defence Force members with a mental health condition by pairing them with skilled Peer Mentors who have also experienced mental ill-health.
The Program creates a ‘helping relationship’ in the form of communication and visits between a Peer and a Peer Mentor with similarities in experiences of military service and mental health challenges.
The volunteer Peer Mentors have recovered sufficiently to provide insight and support for Peers who are on their own recovery journey. Lee is one of these Peer Mentors.
“I'm happy to be involved in Veteran Peer to Peer mentor program. I'm hopeful that it will prove beneficial and useful to many veterans.”
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