You may have heard this phrase before. You may have thought it as you read of another veteran who took their own life, succumbing to their injuries of service.
You may say, ‘not one more’. Not on my watch.
What if I told you this is your chance to make a real difference? To save a life.
It may sound like a cliché but Lynda wants you to know it’s true. Your past support has helped fund the Wellbeing Art Therapy Program which has turned her life around. Thank you for making this vital program possible.
Lynda Brew was just 17-years-old when she joined the Royal Australian Navy as a Reservist in 1986.
It was her love of music that led her to join the Navy full-time, spending 18 months at the Defence Force School of Music in 1991 and was posted to HMAS Penguin as a Musician upon graduating.
It was her dream to be able to play music full-time.
“I’ve always had a love of the arts. I just loved playing the clarinet. It was a part of me. You live, eat, sleep, breathe music and it’s such a good way to express yourself.
Unfortunately she soon learned the core values of the Navy; honour, honesty, courage, integrity and loyalty were not embraced by all who served. Her dream of serving her country, doing what she loved, was shattered in a campaign of abuse, intimidation and sexual misconduct.
The culprits should have been protecting Lynda as a young girl in her twenties serving in the Australian Defence Force. Instead, they caused unspeakable harm that Lynda has been living with ever since.
“I can talk about it now, but I haven’t touched my clarinet since the day I discharged from the band 21 years ago. I just shut down that part of me after all the suffering. For me it was like cutting off a limb, cauterising the pain.”
Lynda, like many of those who suffer injuries of service, did not deal with her trauma for many years. You too may know someone who has concealed their wounds.
It was only when she shared her experiences with the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce (DART) in 2013 that she finally broke down from her injuries of service, ending with an admission to Ward 17 at The Repatriation General Hospital (RGH).
It was at the RGH that Lynda discovered the amazing power of art to help manage her invisible wounds through a pilot Art Program established by The Road Home.
It’s only with the generosity of people like you that the art program was established at the RGH – will you give today to ensure more people in need like Lynda have access to these vital services?
Today, Lynda uses art as a tool to manage elements of her injuries of service and is a passionate member of The Road Home’s Wellbeing Art Therapy Program.
“For me art therapy is the chance to reconnect with that stage of my life, the expression side. It’s amazing that one little squiggle on a piece of paper can actually mean so much when you look at it from a therapeutic angle.
“Art as an outlet just stops it all, it slows the anxiety and gives you time to reorganise and focus your thoughts. Even with my physical injuries and discomfort it releases the tension and the pain.”
Art Therapy, like many vital adjunct therapies, has a meaningful impact to those battling their injuries of service as well as improving the lives of their family and friends. Will you give today to ensure these vital services continue to be available?
“In the last two years my family have noticed a huge change in me.
“For one, the alcohol abuse is not there. The flying off the handle is not there. I’m better at dealing with everyday events. I’m not withdrawing from my family anymore.
“I’ve been going through two years of full on therapy to get to this stage and yet starting the Art Therapy has taken my recovery to a whole new depth, bringing out trauma I had long buried and had been concealing.”
The Road Home Wellbeing Program is set to help more people like Lynda but this is only possible with your support. With just $50, you can ensure someone in desperate need receives a vital therapy session through the Art Program. Will you donate today?
Your support will ensure people like Lynda can be “whole again” by receiving the care and therapies they need to be able to embrace life with their families.
“For the first time in ten years I was able to take my son to The Royal Adelaide Show without the usual fears and anxieties plaguing me.
“These small things, that many people take for granted, are enormous victories for me.”
I’d like to introduce you to David Gillard, who has also experienced the power of Art Therapy.
Serving in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) from 1981-14, veteran David Gillard suffered a number of traumatic events while serving abroad that would eventually lead to being diagnosed with chronic Post-Traumatic Stress.
It was during his first visit to Ward 17 at the RGH in 2015 that David found art based activities, proudly coordinated through The Road Home Wellbeing Program.
Despite never picking up a paintbrush in his life, he has been using art as part of his recovery ever since.
“Involving yourself in the process of making art has the ability to make you slow down and re-direct your thought process. It allows you to concentrate on what is going on around you,” David said.
“It forces you out of your negative thoughts which is a major symptom of Post-Traumatic Stress and it is a great mindfulness exercise,” David said.
As you may well know, seeing someone you love go through so much pain is truly heartbreaking. This is what it has been like for David’s wife Deborah.
But now, by using Art Therapy as a coping mechanism to combat his Post-Traumatic Stress, she has seen a positive change in her husband and believes it is a fantastic outlet for his emotional wellbeing, self-esteem and confidence.
“Suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress has been debilitating for David, coupled with his health and physical limitations but attending art classes has stopped him from thinking about this,” Deborah said.
“Art therapy has given him the opportunity to identify blocks to emotions and develop healthy coping skills and focus on living a happy life. It is a great social outlet for him to interact with others and share in a safe and nurturing environment.
“I’ll continue with Art Therapy for as long as I am able and I’m very grateful for The Road Home Wellbeing Program in aiding my recovery,” David said.
“It sounds cliché, but you really can save a life. I know from personal experience that it really does make a huge difference,” Lynda said.
“The more that the therapies are available and the more they are out there, the more people that will take advantage of it or accept the help. The more lives that will be saved,” said Lynda.
As Remembrance Day approaches, we are reminded of loss of life and the many sacrifices of those who served and those currently serving. Lest we forget.
I’m sure you’ll agree that we must never forget. And we must take action. To protect those who need our help.
Help that will prevent loss of life, for those that have seen too much.
Art, whether it be painting, mixed media or poetry, has the power to heal these injuries of service and prevent further loss of life. Will you show your support of this vital program which makes this possible with a gift this Remembrance Day?