By Amber Lowther
Founded in 2014 by Brian Freeman, Walking Wounded is a charity organisation committed to supporting the psychological recovery and rehabilitation of returned Australian soldiers.
The charity aims to re-train, re-educate and re-integrate the returned soldiers and work to intervene and prevent the alarming suicide rate in the young veteran community.
Walking Wounded have begun their monumental seven-month journey across multiple continents, as an endurance event like no other, to raise vital funds and awareness for wounded soldiers. So far this year $112,610 has been raised with an aim to raise $2 million.
Walking Wounded Executive Officer, Brad Skinner, spoke about the event spanning 89 cities and towns, and relying solely on human power.
He says the endurance event includes climbing to the summit of Mount Everest, trekking the Kokoda Trail and concluding with a climb of Mount Kilimanjaro.
“Money will be used to subsidise ex-soldiers' training and development courses, provide networking opportunities to put them in contact with corporate supporters and possible employers, provide suicide intervention and education training, support Families of the Fallen to commemorate their lost loved ones through sensitive publicity and mutual support activities,” he says.
Here are two Brisbane-ites taking on the journey:
An infantryman (rifleman), Dwayne was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 and within his eight months of deployment, 10 of the 41 soldiers he served with were killed on various operations. Dwayne worked closely with two of the men and this has been something that has since changed his perspective on life. Dwayne is focused on helping as many soldiers as possible and came across founder and CEO Brian Freeman in 2012, following his discharge from the army. Part of the Walking Wounded team, he helps other soldiers step back into society and deal with a variety of issues. One of the big focuses of Walking Wounded is to reduce the current Veteran suicide rate and Dwayne assists with this, the best he can.
Rachel had a 19-year career in the Australian Army as the first and only female photographer on active combat patrol. She knew she never wanted a ‘normal 9 to 5 job’ and it quickly became a job she was proud of doing everyday. Her work in the Army has taken her to dangerous locations such as East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan. Rachel has photographed 31 of the 41 ceremonies and funerals of the fallen soldiers, “It never got easier and I have never been very good at watching people suffer.”
Rachel is now assisting Walking Wounded and has said trekking to Everest Base Camp was the toughest thing she has ever done in her life, as it was a whole different experience and story.
You too get involved by in the Tribute to the ANZACs, and help support Walking Wounded by offering monetary donations, volunteering or promoting the cause by visiting their website.