Why I Ride For Soldier On

During my time in the Australian Army I served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2009 after returning from 9 1/2 months in Afghanistan I knew something wasn’t right. I was aggressive to most people, wary of crowds, couldn’t sleep, had sleeping issues and started drinking heavily. Like most Soldiers, I didn’t want to talk about my issues in case I was seen as being weak and God knows there were others that were worse off than me. So I kept quiet and not surprisingly, things got worse. I didn’t want to spend time with other people and I started thinking this world would be better off without me.

After several days of no sleep, heavy drinking and almost wrapping my car around a pole on purpose, I approached and asked the Senior Soldier at my unit for assistance. Instead of the words of encouragement and avenues of support I expected from a person of that rank, I was met with “harden the f*** up and get over it”. In that one moment I felt defeated, I was dismissed by the one person who is solely responsible for the welfare of the Soldiers subordinate to them. If this person wouldn’t help me and I could no longer help myself then what was next?

Luckily for me I posted into a new unit and found the support I so desperately needed from my new workmates. After a while I finally found the courage to tell my family I needed help. Road blocks were set up by another Senior Soldier and my desperation grew greater until I hit rock bottom; I attempted to end my own life. It was only when my life was at its darkest did professional help eventually appear; it was provided by a civilian agency and organised by a very kind Navy doctor.

With only the bare-minimum of support coming from within the ADF I relied heavily on my family and friends for the ongoing support I needed. After having all support services cut off after I left the Army and the near-impossibility to secure an appointment to see a DVA accredited councillor; I started talking about my issues with others and realised that many other Soldiers had been experiencing the same obstacles; especially those that had separated from the ADF.

This is the reason I am so passionate about the provision of mental health care for returned veterans. The system is not yet good enough and so we rely on each other to be open and honest for ongoing support.

Soldier On helps by providing something other support services do not. They provide hope, confidence and a hand up – not a hand out.

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Battle Of The Beasts – Update #3

Well it’s been a big week for my fundraising. After a disappointing few weeks with trying to get more exposure for the upcoming ride I had some promising leads with securing some local media interviews for radio (thank you Jeff C!) and a couple of Canberra’s newspapers.

The donations have been steady, but the Facebook ‘sharing’ and Twitter ‘retweets’ have been very active; which helps raise awareness for Soldier On. I even managed to set up a Facebook Page: Riding For Soldier On – Doing My Part For Australia’s Wounded Warriors to help keep my Facebook friends and Twitter followers up to date.

From a training perspective I’ve spent a fair bit of time on the bike and should top 200km by the end of the week. I’m not quite 100% with my pec and shoulder but from a fitness and endurance perspective I am pretty close to being at my pre-injury standard. And most importantly, after a taking a pretty big confidence hit courtesy of an overzealous Government Department; I’m feeling better and determined to work just as hard and keep rocking the apple cart.

During the week I had an article about my fundraising published in the Australian Army News. This is great for exposure within the ADF and Australian Army in particular and will hopefully be noticed by some of the Senior Ranks. Maybe they will start to realise that a handful of dedicated individuals (mostly ex-Soldiers living with PTSD) do more work for Veterans Support Services and PTSD education than they do sitting in their ivory towers dismissing mental health issues among the ‘enlisted men’ </END RANT>.

Army News Jpeg
$1’815 has been raised so far and with three months to go there is plenty of time to better last years amount.

PLEASE GO HERE TO DONATE: http://beast-worx.gofundraise.com.au/page/chaddobbsBOTB13