Convoy stands tall for PTSD
A CONVOY of military and emergency services vehicles that are travelling more than 1600km to raise awareness about post traumatic stress disorder made a pit-stop in Coffs Harbour today.
The Lightning Bolt convoy is an initiative of Stand Tall 4 PTS - a campaign set up by former Australian Test cricketer, Vietnam War veteran and PTSD advocate, Tony Dell.
Launched in Brisbane on Tuesday, the convoy is travelling to Melbourne and comprises serving personnel, bushmaster vehicles and first responders.
Mr Dell said it was designed to shine a light on misconceptions surrounding a disorder that is widespread, yet often misunderstood.
"I had PTSD for 40 years but I didn't know why and I didn't know what the problem was," he said.
"After returning to Australia I played some field cricket and a couple of test matches, but after four years I told the national selectors I couldn't want to play any more.
"It was a game I loved, but I just gave it away.
"I struggled - my marriage broke apart, I was fired from jobs and my kids moved out with my wife - and again, I had no idea why that happened.
"It was only when I was on the bones of my backside that my final diagnosis came."
Mr Dell said pressure on returning service-persons to fit back into routine had played a factor.
"It was 'man up and have a spoon of cement' and it still is that today, generally, and that's why we're doing what we're doing," he said.
Mr Dell said the non-for-profit campaign was originally designed to help Vietnam veterans, but had been widened for all personnel and first responders including police and paramedics.
"Recognising PTSD changes your life and we want to encourage people to talk about it, to not suffer in silence, or think that you're alone," he said.
The convoy will travel to locations including the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.