Tom joined the Royal Australian Navy at the age of 19 and served for six years as an electrical technician. For most of his career Tom was based in Australia and worked on destroyers.
With a strong family history in Defence, Tom joined the Navy to become a member of the Defence family. Being in such a large team was important to him and he was eager to take on the difficult training ahead.
As a young single man at the time, Tom also looked forward to the opportunity of travel with the Navy.
During his service, Tom participated in a lot of team sport, enjoying the comradery, discipline and training that came with being a member of the Defence Force.
"My New Zealand trip was a Public Relations exercise with the New Zealand forces. I enjoyed the places we visited and the operations we took part in with the New Zealand Navy.
We pulled into a different port every three or four days and I remember really enjoying when the Australians played sport against the New Zealand Defence Force once or twice a week.”
There were other memories as well, including one of a fire that ultimately led to Tom’s medical discharge and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
"There was a fire in the mount on the HMAS Brisbane, but the good thing that came out of that incident was that we saved the ship due to our training.
Getting medically discharged, that is a bad memory for me. I felt that I had let down my team.”
Adjusting back into civilian life for Tom included a mixture of both good and bad times. The beginning of the process was smooth due to Tom’s age and excitement to see what was ahead. What he also found was that he missed the stability, structure and the comradery.
"I got married the day after I got discharged and we bought our first house. It was exciting but in those 12 months it was a total shift in life for me and my family.”
The most difficult part of the transition process for Tom was retraining and gaining civilian qualifications at a time when he was suffering.
"I got through it but it was hard. I went back as a fourth year apprentice electrician when I got out. I had to learn a lot while I was suffering from a medical condition that I didn’t understand.”
Tom has been involved with RSL DefenceCare initially receiving assistance, and then entering the Veteran Peer to Peer Support program as a mentor.
"I got involved in the Veteran Peer to Peer Support Mentor program initially as a Mentor through an email from one of the claims advisors at RSL DefenceCare. I was excited to be involved and eventually this has led to me becoming the RSL DefenceCare Peer to Peer Coordinator across this pilot project.
I'm very grateful that I was introduced to RSL DefenceCare via Homes for Heroes and I am so very grateful to be able to pay back the investment they made in me through their services. I am looking forward to the challenge ahead with my new role, supporting other Australian Veterans.”
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