HOBART’S Michaela Gilewicz has turned her life around, thanks, she says, to the support she has received from Mates4Mates.
The ex-service support organisation, which opened in Tasmania in 2014, is experiencing increased demand for its services.
Injury cut Ms Gilewicz’s army career short. “I was medically discharged 3½ years into what was supposed to be a lifelong career,” she said.
That was mid-2012, and Ms Gilewicz said she was also unwell mentally.
After seeing Mates4Mates at a community sporting event, she decided to join and started doing mixed martial arts with the organisation.
“That really helped build my confidence,” she said.
Ms Gilewicz also did some equine therapy and a group program for people with posttraumatic stress disorder, which she said gave her the confidence to apply for entry in Invictus Games, created by Prince Harry for wounded, injured or ill serving and former military personnel to compete in.
“Before I was going [to Mates4Mates] I really struggled to leave the house and to socialise. My life now looks totally different to what it did two years ago,” she said.
She competed at Invictus in Toronto last year, and the emotion she showed during the opening ceremony touched hearts around the world, including Prince Harry’s.
Mates4Mates is supporting 232 wounded, injured or ill Tasmanian veterans and their families and demand is increasing. More than 80 new “mates” joined the organisation last year.
Ms Gilewicz encouraged other ex-service men and women who were interested in Mates4Mates to drop in and say hello. More information about the organisation is available at mates4mates.org
HOBART’S Michaela Gilewicz has turned her life around, thanks to our support.
Legend of Anzacs lives on in Harry By MIKAYLA HAUPT JOURNALIST BUNDABERG NEWSMAIL
AFTER spending his childhood reading up on battlefields, Bundaberg teen Harry Packwood is following in the footsteps of the Anzacs he’s researched and is heading to the Western Front.
The Shalom College student is one of eight students in the state to be awarded the Premier’s Anzac Prize for 2018 and secured himself a trip to attend the dawn service at the Australian War Memorial at VilliersBretonneux, France on Anzac Day this year – marking 100 years since the end of World War I.
The 15-year-old history buff submitted a multi-media presentation on what the Anzac legend means in modern Australia that wowed the judges.
Harry said the Anzac spirit lives on in times of hardship, like the bravery and mateship shown in the 2013 flood in Bundaberg.
He said he was very excited when he won and couldn’t wait to live out a long-time dream of his.
“I’ve always wanted to go over to the Western Front and commemorate the Anzacs, it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do from a young age,” he said.
“You can’t begin to comprehend what they went through over there and the effects on their family when they find out their son was killed on the other side of the world.
“I can’t wait to see London and Paris, but I’m most looking forward to seeing the battlefields that I’ve been reading about.”
Harry said he is a distant relation of Bundaberg soldier Matthew Hampson. Private Matthew Frederick Hampson was killed in action on October 11, 1917, on the Western Front.
Fondly know as Fred, the East Bundaberg man was a renowned cyclist in the region before he traded in his two wheels for army greens. Harry’s mother Helen Packwood said respecting the Anzacs, past and present, has always been a big part of their family.
“Commemorating the Anzacs is a big tradition for our family, even when the kids were babies,” she said.
“We’ve always gone to the Bargara Dawn Service.”
Along with ticking off bucket-list items, Harry will be amid some of the first visitors to the Sir John Monash Museum, which will open its doors to visitors in time for Anzac Day 2018. In order to help our present Anzacs, Harry has started a fundraising page in support of the work done by Mates4Mates. For more information or to donate visit www.mates4matescommunityfundraising2018.everydayhero.com/au/spirit-of-the-anzac
Bundaberg NewsMail covers the Premier’s Anzac Prize for 2018
25 August 2017 TOWNSVILLE BULLETIN By: Bettina Warburton
A FORMER army medic says Mates4Mates saved his life. The ex-service organisation is redited for pulling former army corporal Luke Ardill out of the deep dark hole of depression and anxiety.
“Mates4Mates saved my life and my sanity,” he said. “I never got to the suicidal point and I never have been there yet but if it were not for Mates 4 Mates, I would have been there. I was going down that path,” he said.
Mates4Mates supports ex-ADF members and their families who are wounded, injured or ill as a result of their service.
The father of Roman, 11 months, is one of many veterans who are singing the praises of the Townsville organisation. Vietnam veteran Russ Priestley is a regular at the Mates4Mates centre in Anne St, Aitkenvale.
“It’s a great facility, and it’s great that it’s not only for the young Diggers but the old blokes like me,” he said.
“It’s a place that I feel good coming to.”
Former soldier Adam Fowles, who has been diagnosed with PTSD, said he had embraced Mates4Mates in his life. “Everyone seems to understand each other,” he said. There are a lot of different personalities here, but there is a lot of compassion as well. I like coming here.”
Mates4Mates hold therapy courses, events and gatherings where ex-soldiers can talk, get support and recover from their demons often alongside their families.
Mates4Mates general manager of operations Suzanne Desailly said the organisation was developed four years ago as an initiative of RSL Queensland. “The RSL developed Mates4Mates to specifically provide support services to current exservice personnel who have experienced a physical or psychological injury related to their services.”
The organisation was established in Brisbane four years ago, and in Townsville three years ago. Ms Desailly said the organisation had 680 registered members or “mates” in Townsville.
Ms Desailly said all the services Mates4Mates provided was to the immediate family members as well, in recognition if they had a veteran struggling with PTSD or a physical injury that would have a big impact on the family unit.
“We acknowledge that we need to put support around that whole family,” she said.
Ms Desailly said the organisation also acknowledged the importance of creating positive social connections between veterans. “Social connection is vital,” she said. “Many vets struggle when they leave that military family because they feel like they have lost their sense of community.
“They go from this very highly structured life surrounded by people who understand them to a new civilian environment where they don’t have that same connection.”
Townsville Bulletin article highlighting veteran issues and how Mates4Mates is supporting the veteran community.