Michaela Gilewicz was always a high achiever, earning a scholarship to the Australian Defence Force Academy, something only the top two or three per cent of applicants achieve.
Sadly, a shoulder injury forced her defence force career to be cut short. After three and a half years of ongoing pain and three unsuccessful reconstruction attempts, Michaela was medically discharged from the defence force and found herself struggling to get back to normality.
“I had chronic pain and instability from my shoulder injury and watching my Academy classmates progress through training while I was unable to participate led to severe depression and anxiety,” Michaela said.
“Being discharged from the defence force was awful. I felt like my life had been taken away from me and trying to adjust back into society when I wasn’t ready was also very difficult. The defence force teaches you how to be a soldier but we are not taught how to fit back in after service – simple things like shopping and driving became torturous for me.”
Knowing she needed assistance, a friend suggested Michaela participate in the STAIR* program, a 12-week skill based intervention proudly supported by The Road Home designed specifically to help people like her who are struggling with their mental health as a result of service.
“The STAIR program has been hugely beneficial for me. I’ve begun to see improvement in my personal relationships and my stress levels are decreasing.”
Thanks to the support of the STAIR program, Michaela reached a new career high last year, competing in the Invictus Games in Toronto.
“Before the STAIR program I would have never dreamed of trying out for the Invictus Games,” Michaela said.
“The program introduced me to people that supported and encouraged me and my confidence grew. It wasn’t long before I was able to complete everyday tasks and slowly I regained my identity.”
Run by Australian Army Reservist, military psychiatrist and veteran Dr Jon Lane, The Road Home’s STAIR program is currently available to veterans and emergency service personnel.
“The STAIR program is constructed in a way that I believe will help any first responder groups cope with the stress and trauma they face on a regular basis,” Michaela said.
“Before the program I was too scared of failing and ended up suffering from a deep depression. Now I am proud to say the STAIR program helped me find myself and if I didn’t participate in the program I don’t believe I would have had the confidence to start living my life again.”
If you are interested in joining the program, please contact Program Coordinator Mark Reidy from The Road Home on 0400 925 108 or email email@example.com.
*STAIR: Skills Training in Affective Interpersonal Regulation