Mark first joined the army in 1991 and was first posted to Holsworthy’s 5/7 Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment. He served his country across Australia and overseas for a total of 19 years.
"Spending time away from the family was not easy" says Mark as he remembers the time he spent in East Timor. "It was a stressful six months being away from my wife, three sons and my daughter. It was also a time when I started suffering from a mental disorder. We worked long hard hours in East Timor, sometimes 17 hours a day. I would sleep with an alarm clock on my chest and the situation developed an anxiety in me that is still affecting me to this day."
Mark was medically discharged in 2010 due to a back injury he acquired after parachuting and taking a heavy fall. The injury had a significant effect on Mark’s life, preventing him from going for promotions and serving overseas with the Army. "I’ve had this injury for so long now and I cannot describe the pain to anyone. I am always in pain and even feel the pain when I sleep. It’s debilitating."
After being medically discharged from the Army for a number of years, Mark’s financial situation spiralled into crisis. He was unable to work due to his injury and he had a family to look after. Desperate to make ends meet, Mark had no choice but to sell his car to pay for bills and groceries.
A friend of Mark’s mentioned that he should contact RSL DefenceCare and he was put through to RSL DefenceCare’s Community Support Worker, Peter.
"I was so relieved when I spoke to Peter – I had not spoken to anyone about the issues I was facing before because I thought there was no one out there who could help. I got into the routine of attending a counselling session with Peter every Wednesday to discuss things that had been occurring from a financial as well as emotional standpoint. Peter helped me see a little bit of light at the tunnel and gave me hope that maybe I could pull myself together and address the issues I was facing.
"RSL DefenceCare paid for urgent bills and put Mark in touch with a financial counsellor who could help him on the path to getting his financial issues in order. Mark is also being helped with his claim to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. "All the other advocates I have spoken to think my case is just too hard and said they could not help. But RSL DefenceCare is willing to take it on."
"I personally believe if I had not been introduced to RSL DefenceCare I don’t think my family and I would be here like we are today. Our crisis is not over yet, but it could have been very different. My wife and I are very grateful for the support, both financially and emotionally, the people at RSL DefenceCare have given us."
Please give what you can so veterans, like Mark, and their family members are looked after like they deserve to be.