profile image of Anthony Gill, a Soldier On Service Ambassador

Anthony Gill

Service Ambassador

I am a full-time Dad with an ARA wife. You will notice me in a crowd because of my chocolate Labrador service dog, Jack.  

I served nine and a half years in the Army, serving in the Royal Australian Engineers as an Emergency Responder. I deployed to East Timor in 2008 as part of the Timor Leste Aviation Group (TLAG), and Afghanistan in 2011 as part of the Enhanced Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team (E-OMLT). I have served postings with IRR Holsworthy (Now Special Operations Engineer Regiment, SOER), 1st Recruit Training Battalion Kapooka, 1st Combat Engineer Regiment (CER), and 3CER.  

 I was medically discharged in 2013 following chronic injuries and a diagnosis of PTSD. After locking horns with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs for years, the end result saw me cutting all ties with the Defence Force as all things in uniform angered me. There were no longer any ties to the defence force, as all things in a uniform angered me. I was anti-social and a burden to live with. Everyone and everything angered me, my depression and disappointment in myself and the defence force (I for failing to be strong enough to handle my experiences, and they for their swift removal of me) saw me bitter and angry, so much so that I was prepared to burn all my medals and awards in a bid to distance myself from the Army.  

I was aimless and literally searching for a cause or meaning to attach myself to. In January of 2018, my wife, who is still serving in the Army, got a posting to the reserve base in Adamstown. Through her interactions with Ms Cherylee King of Port Stevens Veterans Network, my wife registered me for the deep-sea fishing trip hosted by SoldierOn. It was through this event that I was exposed to an organisation which focused on strengthening the family unit. This was massively important for me, as my family (particularly my wife) had supported me throughout my career, and in the various stages of my recovery. We participated in the Roar and Snore at the Dubbo Zoo, which was immensely helpful in providing a fun and interesting atmosphere whereby we were able to focus on our family unit during a particularly difficult period. My kids have also done sailing and surfing outings and have been afforded opportunities for social and physical outlet that we would not have otherwise thought to engage in.  

These days I am engaged with coffee catch ups and other SoldierOn social events, as I have limited capacity for employment.  

When driving in my car, I sing to my dogs and make up stupid nick-names for them. 

I am a SoldierOn ambassador as I feel strongly that many other organisations and causes get thrust into the public sphere and have a multitude of avenues to raise awareness or funding, but the mental health of service people is something that people recognise yet ignore.  

Whilst an ambassador, I wish to raise awareness within the defence and wider community about the value of Soldier On, and assist people and families to understand that reaching out for help is not shameful or weak.