As the days count down to Anzac Day, a former soldier has shared his story of service, camaraderie and returning home to Australian soil.
You’ve always got to think of the rest of your life in terms of your career and family.Troy Park
For more than 20 years, Beaumont Hills resident Troy Park served and protected his country as a soldier in the Australian Army.
The former special operations sergeant was deployed on a tour to Afghanistan, East Timor and the Middle East, before returning home.
“You’ve always got to think of the rest of your life in terms of your career and family,” he said.
“I decided it was time to transition out of defence into the corporate world.”
Enlisting at just 17, military service in the blood with Mr Park’s ancestors serving in World War I and II, Vietnam War and Gulf War.
“We have served in every major conflict. The big difference between them and me is they went away for the period of the war, whereas I could join up for four years and leave,” Mr Park said.
About 90 per cent of Australian Defence Force (ADF) members have experienced at least one potentially traumatic event at some time in their life, according to the 2010 ADF Mental Health Prevalence and Wellbeing Study.
The father-of-two said he wanted to see the gap closed for troops returning home and receiving support from the government.
“There are guys who are really struggling,” Mr Park said. “These guys see mental health as a weakness so they aren’t keen to expose that.
“I think defence is doing a great job in preparing people but everyone reacts differently to situations. Some people can see one thing and it will trigger something which develops into post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Defence is really trying in preparing people but until you are on the ground experiencing it, there is only so much you can prepare for.
“I’m not saying that I am totally across what the defence force does, but there is still a long way to go with self-reporting and the mental health stigma.”
Mr Park, a member of the Castle Hill RSL Sub-Branch, encouraged other veterans in the community to reach out to the group for support.
“They have advocates who are trained by the Department of Veteran Affairs,” Mr Park said.
“I encourage all young veterans and members of the defence force to join their local sub-branch. It’s an Australian icon that needs to be preserved.”