Pollie Pedal 2017 – Veteran Rider Profile – Mark Blake

mark blake

Mark Blake

Name: Mark Blake

Age: 47

Did you serve in Army, Navy or Air Force?

Army

When did you serve?

Canberra, Kapooka, Brisbane, Lae – PNG (as part of the Defence Cooperation Program – DCP)

What job role did you undertake?

My roles included Construction Squadron Troop Commander, Works Officer

What were the favourite parts of your job?

Camaraderie with other serving personnel,  assisting the PNGDF as part of the DCP

Did you deploy to any other countries? If so, where and what was it like? 

Only PNG, and in a non-operational role as the Works Officer for the PNGDF’s Engineer Battalion.  It was an excellent experience, being able to assist a developing Defence Force, and immersing myself in the culture at the same time.

What is one of your favourite memories while serving in the Defence Force?

Working with troops in Lae to build a bridge from locally won materials, arranging training opportunities for members of the PNGDF that they had never had before.

What did you learn from the military that benefited you most in life?

The military is an amazing organisation with a fantastic culture.  It promotes very high personal and professional standards and ethics, including an overriding sense of helping others.

What do you miss the most about serving in the Defence Force?

The camaraderie, however I feel privileged to acknowledge that I am very much enjoying that again with ACT Fire and Rescue

What is your job now?

Firefighter for ACT Fire and Rescue

Why and when did you take up bike riding?

I have been riding push bikes since I was a teenager.  I have always liked longer distance riding, so planned a few trips with mates even before I was able to obtain a driver’s licence

What are you most looking forward to on Pollie Pedal Bike Ride 2017? 

Mixing with the other participants, both riders and support staff, making new friends, seeing our wonderful country from the seat of a push bike.

 

Support Mark’s fundraising efforts here – https://polliepedalsoldieringon.everydayhero.com/au/mark

Pollie Pedal 2017 – Veteran Rider Profile – Todd Berry

todd berry

Todd Berry

Name: Todd Berry

Age: 46

Did you serve in Army, Navy or Air Force? 

Army

When did you serve? 

March 1989 – February 2007

What job role did you undertake?

I served in Infantry and Special Operations both as a soldier and as a commissioned officer.

Did you deploy to any other countries? If so, where and what was it like? 

Yes; Malaysia, PNG, NZ, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and East Timor. Most of my deployments overseas were exchanges and exercises. One of my favourite jobs was as an instructor at the Malaysian Royal Military College for two years. I learnt to speak Malay and understand the Malaysian culture. My only operational deployment was to East Timor as a Company Commander with the Commando Battalion, it was a great privilege to command Special Operations soldiers during warlike service.

What is one of your favourite memories while serving in the Defence Force?

There were many, however postings as an instructor have given me many fond memories. It was extremely rewarding watching young men and women develop during their time in training establishments.

What did you learn from the military that benefited you most in life?

Self discipline and punctuality.

What do you miss the most about serving in the Defence Force?

The camaraderie and mateship.

Why and when did you take up bike riding?

I started riding consistently to prepare for my first half ironman triathlon in 2014.

What are you most looking forward to on Pollie Pedal Bike Ride 2017? 

Riding with other frontline members that have been affected by their service to our country. I hope I will get the opportunity to engage with members of the community about Defence and EMS issues post service.

Donate to Todd’s fundraising efforts here – https://polliepedalsoldieringon.everydayhero.com/au/todd

Pollie Pedal 2017 – Veteran Rider Profile – Robbie Thompson

Robbie Thompson

Robbie Thompson

Name: Robbie Thompson (Robbie T or Thomo)

Age: 44

Did you serve in Army, Navy or Air Force?

Navy

When did you serve?

1993-2003

What job role did you undertake?

Physical Training Instructor

What were the favourite parts of your job? 

Motivating members to always improve themselves and strive to be their best

Did you deploy to any other countries? If so, where and what was it like?

Thailand, New Zealand, USA, Canada and the Solomon Islands. I always enjoyed embracing cultures of all countries, during peacetime and assisting during conflict. Making a difference!

What is one of your favourite memories while serving in the Defence Force?

Lifetime friends and the skills I acquired

What did you learn from the military that benefited you most in life?

Respect, integrity, mateship and honour

What do you miss the most about serving in the Defence Force? 

The friends and travel

What is your job now?

Station Officer with the ACT Fire & Rescue

Why and when did you take up bike riding? 

In 2009, I needed an activity to assist with managing my PTSD. The relationship between mental health and physical activity is well documented and there is no better way to clear the mind, get some fresh air and stay healthy.

What are you most looking forward to on Pollie Pedal Bike Ride 2017?

Being a voice for the veteran community to members of Parliament. Sharing what we as a veteran community need and hopefully inspiring some people along the way and making some lifetime new friends

Support Robbie’s fundraising efforts here – https://polliepedalsoldieringon.everydayhero.com/au/robbie

 

Pollie Pedal 2017 – Veteran Rider Profile – Michael Hannaford

Michael Hannaford

Michael Hannaford

Name: Michael Hannaford

Age: 37

Did you serve in Army, Navy or Air Force?

Army.

When did you serve?

2002

What job role did you undertake? 

I served in the army for a short time in 2002 before being medically discharged from Kapooka during my initial training.

What is your job now? 

In 2006 I joined the New South Wales Police Force and graduated from the Police College in May 2007. I have been stationed at Queanbeyan for the duration of my career and I am currently attached to the Traffic and Highway Patrol Command. I have been a member of the Highway Patrol since September 2010.

Why and when did you take up bike riding? 

I have been riding bikes for as long as I can remember. I have participated in most disciplines during my life including BMX racing, mountain biking and road cycling. About 2 years ago I began taking my road cycling more seriously. I had been involved in a critical incident at work and riding gave me something else to focus on. I have found that riding has provided me a way to keep fit, both physically and mentally. I enjoy the social aspect of riding and making new friends, not to mention the coffee stops!

What are you most looking forward to on Pollie Pedal Bike Ride 2017?

I am looking forward to the challenge of the ride itself. Riding 1000 kilometres in eight days is a massive challenge and I am excited for this opportunity.  I am looking forward to raising money and awareness for people suffering from mental illness through Soldier On.

 

Donate to Michael’s Pollie Pedal Page here – https://polliepedalsoldieringon.everydayhero.com/au/michael

Statement from Soldier On

Over the weekend we heard reports within the veteran community that another three veterans had tragically taken their own life last week.

There are no words to communicate how truly devastating it is to lose four veterans to suicide in one week alone.

Our thoughts and hearts go out to their family and friends.

In light of this heartbreaking news, Soldier On would like to remind veterans and their family members to seek support for mental health issues, if needed.

In the past, Soldier On’s Director of Psychology Services, Dr Michelle Buchholz has encouraged veterans and family members to seek support if they are thinking about or planning suicide. She reassures veterans that “these feelings and thoughts can pass, and it is possible to start feeling better, especially with assistance and support.”

Soldier On would like to remind you that you are not alone in your mental health battles. There are doctors and psychologists who are highly trained to work with people having difficulties in their lives, and do so every day. These health professionals genuinely want to help you start to feel better.

And it is not just mental health illnesses that doctors and psychologists can assist with; they also work with people who are stressed or having relationship difficulties or who are experiencing a bit of a rough patch in their lives but don’t necessarily have a mental health condition.

Most importantly, we want to remind veterans and their family members that reaching out for support is not a sign of weakness. It takes courage to ask for a helping hand in life.

We see first-hand the difference support can make in the life of a veteran impacted psychologically from his or her time in the Defence Force. We know that support can work and bring relief.

Dr Buchholz says counselling is not just talking about your feelings.

“Mental health professionals can help you to understand your symptoms, and show you that you’re not ‘going crazy’ and that there is a way forward.

“They also can help to teach you new skills to help improve and protect your mental health. These are skills that we don’t tend to learn anywhere else in our daily lives, and can help you to deal with negative thoughts and feelings, and bring you out of dark places,” says Dr Buchholz.

In addition to offering psychology services, Soldier On also offers employment and education support and activities that promote social connectedness, to combat mental health issues in the veteran community.

Attending a coffee catch up or a surfing weekend can be a great first step to overcoming mental health issues. And successfully transitioning from the Defence Force to the community can also mitigate or reduce triggers for mental health conditions.

There are lots of options for veterans who want to seek mental health support. See the list below.

Please stay safe. Please look after yourselves, and look out for each other.

MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES FOR VETERANS & FAMILIES

SOLDIER ON offers free psychology services in Sydney, Canberra, Currumbin, Melbourne and Perth. Please email psychology@soldieron.org.au for more information.

The VETERANS AND VETERANS’ FAMILIES COUNSELLING SERVICE (VVCS) offers free services with counsellors and has a 24-hour contact number in case you need assistance outside of business hours. VVCS is contactable on 1800 011 046.

BEYOND BLUE can be contacted for support any time of the day or night and provide one-on-one chats with trained mental health professionals. Their number is 1300 22 4636.

LIFELINE provides crisis support and suicide prevention services and is contactable on 13 11 14.

Some RSLs provide mental health services, please check with your local sub branch.

MATES4MATES offers free psychology services in Townsville and Brisbane. Please visit their website for more information.

You can also speak to your GP who will be able to refer you to a suitable clinician.

For more mental health services available to veterans and families, please visit the ‘Need Help?’ page on our website – http://bit.ly/1evud58

Pollie Pedal 2017 – Veteran Rider Profile – David Welch

David Welch

Name: David Welch

Age: 57

Did you serve in Army, Navy or Air Force?

Army

When did you serve? 

1978-2011

What job role did you undertake?

RAEME officer

What were the favourite parts of your job?

Regimental service in Australia and overseas – much greater camaraderie and shared sense of purpose than in staff roles in headquarters.

Did you deploy to any other countries? If so, where and what was it like?

  • Malaysia: 1986, as an instructor at the Malaysian Army School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering – highlight was gaining a deep appreciation of many aspects of Asian culture, and the different sub-cultures of Malaysia – also, meeting and later marrying my Malaysian wife.
  • England: 1989, student at Royal Military College of Science – highlight was gaining a very deep understanding of current and emerging military technology, and visiting many multi-national defence manufacturers.  For an engineer, this is nirvana!
  • Germany: 1993-94, exchange posting with the British Army – company commander in armoured workshop battalion – highlight was being involved in exercises with armoured brigades, command post exercises at the divisional level and preparing detachments and individuals for deployments around the world, also the honour of commanding soldiers from another nation’s army.
  • East Timor: 2002, senior logistics officer on UN peacekeeping force headquarters – highlight was working with officers and soldiers from so many different nations, all with a common purpose; I believe that I had personnel from approximately 10 nations working in my team.

What is one of your favourite memories while serving in the Defence Force?

Most of my memories are about the people I served with. In the early days it was my class mates at Duntroon, later it was my various bosses who provided guidance and opportunities for me to learn and the colleagues who provided companionship. In command positions at company and battalion level it was the opportunities to guide and nurture soldiers, NCOs and young officers and to see them grow in experience and confidence.  In later years it was the opportunity to influence the future direction of defence systems and equipment that would be operated by sailors, soldiers and airmen and women.

What did you learn from the military that benefited you most in life?

I am thinking of a couple of things, and am having difficulty narrowing down to just one or two:

  • Probably the most important lesson was about looking after the people in an organisation – both in the immediate short term and in the longer term: training them, supporting them with appropriate processes and policies, providing ongoing mentoring and training and preparing for later stages in their careers.
  • Having a plan for what it is you are doing (failing to plan is planning to fail), and thinking through all of the ways in which your plans may be impacted by events outside your control
  • Keeping a sense of calm and perspective when things start to go wrong – particularly when in a leadership position it is critical for everyone involved to see that the boss is calm in a crisis

What do you miss the most about serving in the Defence Force? 

I most miss the camaraderie that exists in training institutions and in regimental service – though I left those types of roles more than 10 years before I completed my Army career.  That said, 35 years after graduation from Duntroon a small group of us now get together annually – either in Australia or overseas – for a few days with our partners.  Other than big bike riding events, this is one of the highlights of my year.

What is your job now?

General manager of ACT branch of Communications Design & Management, a medium-size ICT services company that provides services to many government agencies, including Defence

Why and when did you take up bike riding?

About 18 months ago I resumed triathlons after a 30 year break – mostly as it was an opportunity to participate in a sport with my two adult children.  I found that my body (particularly knees) were no longer up to the running, and that I did not particularly enjoy swimming in Canberra’s Lake Burley Griffin; however, I found that I really enjoyed getting out on the road – either alone or with a group – for a long ride.  In early 2016 I joined Pedal Power and have been a regular participant in organised weekend rides and events.  Over the year both speed and endurance have improved to the extent that I am undertaking and enjoying even longer rides and more demanding rides and events.

What are you most looking forward to on Pollie Pedal Bike Ride 2017?

In no particular order:

  • An arduous physical activity that will be particularly challenging
  • Opportunity to be in close company of senior federal politicians from both major parties over a number of days – particularly to understand what they are like as ‘real people’ away from the camera lens
  • Opportunity to interact with senior business leaders (corporate sponsor representatives)
  • Opportunity to ride in areas that I would not normally venture, and to visit small rural/country towns and communities
  • Opportunity to spread the word about the important work that Soldier On performs for Australia’s veterans
  • Opportunity to spread the word about the different experiences of veterans during and after service

 

Donate to David’s Pollie Pedal Page – https://polliepedalsoldieringon.everydayhero.com/au/david

Pollie Pedal 2017 – Veteran Rider Profile – Paul Smith

Paul Smith

Name: Paul Eric Smith

Age: 45

Did you serve in Army, Navy or Air Force?

Navy and Army

When did you serve?

Navy (1989 – 1995), Army (1995 to present)

What job role did you undertake?

I was a sailor and now I am an officer.

What were the favourite parts of your job?

Helping others. I have had the privilege of commanding and instructing in the Army and without a doubt, mentoring and making a positive difference to others is the most satisfying and inspirational part of my job.

Did you deploy to any other countries? If so, where and what was it like?

East Timor (2) and Iraq. I have also had the pleasure of spending time on exchange in Indonesia and the USA working with their militaries.

What is one of your favourite memories while serving in the Defence Force?

Being able to share with my young children my job and have them see what I do, go to their school or take them to the Australian War Memorial. I’m proud of my service and know that my kids are too.

What did you learn from the military that benefited you most in life?

You can learn from both good and bad experiences. You never stop learning.

What is your job now?

I am a military instructor at the Australian Command and Staff College.

Why and when did you take up bike riding?

I started riding in 2012 and before that I was a runner, running two marathons and a number of half-marathons. Exercise has always been an important outlet for me; it is great therapy!

What are you most looking forward to on Pollie Pedal Bike Ride 2017? 

Sharing my story and making a positive difference through educating others about the important work Soldier On does and how we must continue to work hard to support our veterans and their families.

 

Donate to Paul’s Pollie Pedal Page – https://polliepedalsoldieringon.everydayhero.com/au/paul

Pollie Pedal 2017 – Veteran Rider Profile – Adam Campbell

Adam Campbell - Pollie Pedal 2017     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name: Adam Campbell

Age: 39

Did you serve in Army, Navy or Air Force?

Air Force

When did you serve?

1995-2005

What job role did you undertake?

Communications & Information Systems Controller

What were the favourite parts of your job?

I enjoyed the structure, the training and the technology.  With a passion for IT, I enjoyed the challenging work and the sense of community in Defence.

Did you deploy to any other countries? If so, where and what was it like? 

  • Kyrgyzstan, 2002 – A rugged Central Asian county with a strong Soviet history.  Operating out of Manas Airbase, Australian forces were part of an eight-nation contingent supporting air operations over Afghanistan.  At times is was bitterly cold.  OP slipper was my first opportunity to apply my tradecraft in a live theatre of operations.  The place, the people, the snow-capped mountains, and the experiences will be with me forever.
  • Qatar, 2003; – OP Falconer/OP Catalyst.  Northern coast of the Arabian Peninsula.   Operating from a remote base the terrain was desolate an inhospitable  Temperatures exceeding 50C.  Sandstorms and camel spiders.  Tactical flights in and out of Iraq, and several days forward deployed to Baghdad.

What is one of your favourite memories while serving in the Defence Force? 

The flag.  I have a distinct memory of my time in the desert, coming off shift one morning, fatigued, climbing out of the truck in the middle of a sandstorm, visibility down to almost nothing, hot sand whipping and stinging exposed skin, and there flying proud on the top of our tent was the Australian flag.  In the most challenging conditions, in the harshest environment, undeterred, that flag flew true and strong.  On that day, at that place, the significance of that flag took on new meaning for me.

What did you learn from the military that benefited you most in life?

Improvise, adapt, overcome.

What do you miss the most about serving in the Defence Force?

Mateship, camaraderie, and the sense of purpose that comes with duty and service.

What is your job now?

IT manager

Why and when did you take up bike riding?

I took up cycling for fitness and as part of my journey into the sport of triathlon three years ago.  Cycling is now a habit, a release, a lifestyle.

What are you most looking forward to on Pollie Pedal Bike Ride 2017?

I’m looking forward to the opportunity to be part of something exciting, to challenge myself and push beyond my comfort zone.  I’m also very much looking forward to the opportunity to talk and share experiences with the crew.

 

Donate to Adam’s Pollie Pedal Page – https://polliepedalsoldieringon.everydayhero.com/au/adam