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An initiative proudly supported by the Chief of the Defence Force Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin


30 PAGES Defence Shed magazine 2/2017

Projects To Inspire trusted to deliver



2/2017 Defence Shed

FROM THE CHAIRPERSON Building strong links with the community is essential to ensuring our current and ex-serving Defence personnel can build resilience. Defence Shed is about connecting our members with their local community, whether it be a project at the local church, lending a hand at Clean Up Australia Day, linking people with other groups/services or renovating the Defence Shed building. We are excited to be looking for more activities within the community to build confidence, trust and respect between our members and their local community. Not everything is about being on the tools though. Socialising at the Saturday BBQ, retirement dinners and birthday parties have all brought us closer together. In preparation for summer we will be planning more social activities such as camping, fishing, kayaking and family days. We welcome existing members, new members, sponsors and community partners to join us at Defence Shed.

Benjamin Parkinson



Defence Shed acknowledges the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of this nation. We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work. We pay our respects to ancestors and Elders, past and present. Defence Shed is committed to honouring Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ unique cultural and spiritual relationships to the land, waters and seas and their rich contribution to society.

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are warned that the following pages may contain images of deceased persons.

TOOL SHED Defence Shed fills the gaps and creates the links between organisations and agencies helping to capture the people who slip between the gaps, we then point them in the right direction to seek the service they need, utilizing the Tools already in place by these agencies.


OUTDOOR SHED Getting out together, camping and 4x4 adventuring as families and mates, giving Peer 2 Peer Support to each other and enjoying the great outdoors. The OUTBACK SHED also assists rural ESO’s with projects that they may need some city assistance

BOAT SHED Regular local fishing trips with mates coming together for a chance to fish off shore, learn boating skills, new fishing techniques, make there own rigs and nets and get some Peer 2 Peer support. Its a chance to open up to others , ‘What is said on the water stays on the water.’


Follow the progress of #Defence Shed’s journey via your favourite social media outlet.

08/30 We take a look at ‘Serving Country’ photographic exhibition, the series has nearly 200 digital images, personal stories and quotes of serving ADF Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

11/30 Clean up Australia Day - Defence Shed was out and about lending a hand to help clean up Cruikshank Corner, Port Adelaide

12/30 Operation 2 - Bridge 2 Recovery. The Community Project will enable veterans to immerse themselves in a significant project based on a learning environment.

17/30 Around the Shed - The building transformation is really taking shape with the kitchen installed, floor boards repaired and plasterboard installed and painted, the Shed is almost finished.

22/30 In the Tool Shed we explore various tools to assist in building resilience, confidence and better mental / health wellbeing and we get a Canadian insight into Transition issues.

GARDEN SHED Keen gardeners have a place at the GARDEN SHED growing Herbs Vegetables to share, eat or turn in to preserves for fund-raising. Gallipoli Lone Pine Trees and Gallipoli Rosemary are also grown for the National “AVENUES of HONOUR” Project.

KIDS SHED Defence Shed is family orientated and we encourage members to bring the whole family along and participate in games and activities. KIDS SHED keeps the little ones busy whist mum or dad can have a brew, chat and get support

DEFENCE SHED Defence Sheds is a meeting place where Current / ex-ADF Members, emergency services and families can discuss issues of concern with like-minded mates, work on projects together, get involved in fund-raising activities and give/get Peer2Peer support for one another.


FROM THE TREASURER The financial year 2016/17 is coming to an end. As treasurer I have been in Adelaide for about half of that time so a big thank you to those who have helped with the banking, receipt keeping, purchasing and communicating treasury issues and matters to me. The first point is that we have approximately 2000 dollars more in the bank account compared to this time last year! This year we have been very fortunate to have received corporate sponsorship and very generous donations from members of the public and members of Defence Shed. The second point is that we have made considerable income from BBQ fund-raisers, gate collections and the trivia night held at Largs Bay RSL. These efforts made up nearly half of our income for the financial year. Defence Shed has to pay annual insurance, Internet, website and other bills, despite these costs, Defence Shed has invested significant income into improving the Defence Shed in terms of safety and suitability for future projects. Investments in Initiatives and projects is our other area of expense as this is our core business. Now that the shed itself is nearing completion of upgrades to become a safe and suitable environment for projects (great work Phil, and the team!), a greater percentage of future income can be directed at projects and initiatives. Such initiatives support our members and the community and ultimately help achieve the primary objective of our shed. Once again, thank you to our corporate sponsors Babcock, ASC, donators, volunteers family and friends.

Joseph Mack

RAAF Treasurer


COMMUNITY SHED Being involved in the community means building relationships. Relationships are the very things that bridge the gaps between barriers, that become ‘sticky subjects’ for many.


“When men and women can find a place, often with their peers - the people who matter - they can learn to trust again and to lower their guards, and the real miracle I often get to witness is that they start to come back to life.” - John Whelan, PhD

FROM THE OUTGOING CHAIRPERSON It’s been a pleasure to have been elected and maintain the position of Chairperson of Defence Shed’s inaugural Executive Committee for the last two years. During the tenure, Defence Shed transitioned from an RSL sub-branch sub-committee and a small online community; into an Incorporated Association, Registered Charity with the ACNC, with its first physical location, and a thriving online community of over 5,000 members. None of Defence Shed’s achievements could not have been possible without the tireless effort of the Executive Committee who have worked so hard to form and develop our important organisation, and I thank them deeply for their unparalleled commitment and dedication. With the outgoing Executive Committee, there is a changing of the guard to the newly elected Committee. Defence Shed is in an excellent position to thrive and continue to do what it does best, and the new enthusiasm and skills that the incoming Committee bring will propel Defence Shed into an exciting new chapter. I wish the new Executive Committee the best of luck moving forward, however under the new leadership of Ben Parkinson, I know they won’t need it. I’m looking forward to following Defence Shed’s continued success and exciting future.

Sean Bates ex RAN

Chairperson 2015 - 2017

FROM THE OUTGOING SECRETARY I’ve spent 4 years pushing a movement to become reality. Creating a place where Veteran’s can go to feel at home. A relaxing environment where they can feel free to do as they please either by sitting in a corner by themselves chilling out or getting their hands dirty creating something. Now after 18 months of being the Secretary it’s time to take a back seat. My wife, kids and friends have missed out over the years and it’s time to give my heart and soul back to them. I’m stepping back with full confidence that the new committee are just as committed and passionate about Veterans and their support as I have been over the years and I look forward to seeing Defence Shed grow. Thank you all at Defence Shed.

Jarrod Chandler

ex RAR Secretary 2015 - 2017


There are several ways to follow the progress of #DefenceShed ’s journey, the easiest way is via your favourite social media outlet. We welcome feedback and comments and encourage everyone to share our stories with others. - search for Defence Shed - Port Adelaide

like, share, follow our journey.


STAY CONNECTED WITH DEFENCE SHED BIG NEWS - The Defence Shed members App is now live. Register as an official member of Defence Shed - Port Adelaide through the app and you will have access to all the latest news, chats, events and discussions, More features (store, donations) will come online over the next few months.


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians have a long and proud tradition of serving in the Australian Defence Force (ADF). For more than a century they have served alongside other Australian servicemen and women - from South Africa and Gallipoli, to the trenches of Belgium and France, and the battlefields of Korea and Vietnam, to the rocky deserts of Afghanistan. The experiences of military service together with historical events and societal discrimination over generations can impact on the physical, social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander servicemen and women.

The ADF has long been regarded as one of the first Equal Employers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, where tolerance and equality is considered the norm. It has been said, that there is no discrimination in battle, everyone is a target regardless of colour, gender or ethnicity. In the military there is one colour, that of your uniform. The Serving Country Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Portrait Series (Serving Country) by Photographers Belinda Mason and Dieter Knierim, was first created with the support of the Western Sydney University and the Elders on Campus, in 2014 as part of the NAIDOC Week theme: Serving Country – Centenary and Beyond. Serving Country provides a platform for sharing stories that exposes the real experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander servicemen and women, and acknowledges the positive roles they play in the community. These stories are inspiring and thought provoking, and include accounts of courage, suffering and mateship. Sharing stories is an important part of our culture, plays a vital role in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, and has a strong link to healing mind and spirit within us, our family, our community or our nation. The series has nearly 200 digital images, personal stories and quotes, 60 of the 200 digital images are printed to Brushed Aluminium and have been exhibited in Sydney, Canberra and Queensland.


Defence Shed has been proudly promoting and assisting ‘Serving Country’ as this important photographic exhibition travels around the country.

Natalie Whyte Olkolo Woman Lance Corporal, Royal Australian Army Ordinance Corp Iraq War Veteran

Next exhibition July - September R.M. Williams Australian Bush Learning Centre. 23767 Gayndah-Monto Road EIDSVOLD QLD inquiries 07 41657272



One of the most important things for a good life is good health, and for good health, a strong community is paramount. Countless studies tell us how being involved in our community makes us healthier. Community activities are lauded for prevention of bad health outcomes across the health sphere. As Minister for Mental Health and Ageing under the Gillard government I worked with countless mental health organisations, and every single one of them stressed the importance of social activity and community. In the ageing sector, community is the building block upon which they work – older people with strong community ties are more likely to take fewer medications and be hospitalised less often. Research from the UK shows that one third of people admitted to hospital had poor social inclusion and activity with social interaction less than once a month. This is not even mentioning community’s role in the prevention of medical conditions such as dementia. These strengths are particularly important when you consider the defence and veterans community – veterans are at a very high risk for poor health outcomes, both mentally and physically. Increasingly evidence shows that poor mental health contributes to poor physical health, and vice versa. In studies focusing on both mental and physical health, social activity and community is cited as a factor in prevention of poor outcomes. This is perhaps the biggest strength of the Defence Shed and the community around veterans groups such as RSLs. Firstly, those in veterans and defence communities understand the experiences that lead to a particular risk within those communities to suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but veterans’ mental health is far more than PTSD. Depression and substance abuse occur at much higher rates within the defence community than the general population. Community is not just prevention for these conditions, but a treatment for those already suffering. There is strong evidence that mental and physical activity and regular routines are invaluable to those with mental health issues. Isolation is one of the most common experiences reported by those returning from service or retiring to civilian life – their communities, and those who understood their activities and behaviours are ripped away, and veterans report feeling like part of them has been ‘lost’ once they no longer have the structure and community of the defence force. Many of the behaviours and routines of the defence force don’t fit well with civilian life, and many veterans report feeling that they have to relearn how to interact with their families and friends. This is where not just community, but specifically defence and veteran communities come to the fore in prevention and treatment of mental health issues. They ease that transition from military to civilian, providing a place where people do understand your language, mannerisms, and routine. They give access to people who not only sympathise with the difficulties of transition to civilian life, but are also experiencing them alongside you, supporting you in your endeavours. Community is important for all people and all health, but the particular circumstances of veterans makes communities like RSLs, and the networks around the Defence Shed invaluable to health and wellbeing. Mark Butler MP - Federal Member for Port Adelaide



L-R Andrew - Advocate, Phil - ex RAR, Ben RAAF, Mark Butler MP - Federal Member for Port Adelaide

Defence Shed members could be seen out and about early on Sunday 05 March 2017, lending a hand to clean up Cruikshank Corner, Port Adelaide alongside Mark Butler MP and other community members. Helping out at the annual Clean Up Australia Day our members were able to help protect the Port Adelaide River and build bonds with the Port Adelaide Community. Defence Shed’s participation also goes beyond being good community citizens. Veterans joined the military to serve their nation, and when this is taken away due to leaving the service it can be hard to find purpose again. Defence Shed’s support of Clean Up Australia Day and other community activities encourages veterans to serve in ways they may not have considered before. Clean Up Australia Day is an activity where you can see the immediate benefits of your service to the community, bags full of rubbish that will not enter our waterways. As Defence Shed grows we will be looking for further opportunities to support other non-profit groups, community groups, schools and local councils through community service projects that allow us to continue to serve our community.


OPERATION TWO Bridge 2 Recovery

Preserving our Community This year the Defence Shed was given an opportunity to be actively involved in a remarkable and historical project. The Defence Shed was approached by the City of Port Adelaide & Enfield Council to take part in the restoration of a unique and historic piece of Port Adelaide’s History. The Tower is the only remaining piece of the original Jervois Bridge, once on display at the car park opposite the wharf markets. The Defence Shed offered a collective effort with a number of organisations to restore the ageing tower to its former glory. The Community Project would enable veterans to immerse themselves in a significant project based on a learning environment. The Project may not match the Veterans and community skill base however it provides a perfect opportunity for them to learn new skills during the restoration. The Council intends to return the structure next to the current Jervois Bridge as part of a bike path loop of Port Adelaide. The Defence Shed is in conversation with the Council and further wait clarification and consideration. - Phil Quin ex RAR


The need for a fixed link between Port Adelaide and Lefevre Peninsula was acknowledged by South Australian residents and officials during the colony’s earliest years. In the 1830s and 1840s it was common for arriving ships to discharge passengers and mail on Lefevre Peninsula’s western shoreline during periods of calm weather. The passengers would then undertake a 1.5-kilometre overland journey to the western bank of the Port River, where they employed watermen to ferry them across to Port Adelaide. In the meantime, the vessel from which they disembarked would enter the river and gradually make its way upstream to the Port. In many cases, passengers often arrived at their destination one or more days before their ship moored at one of the wharves along the waterfront. It was the needs of these individuals for a safe, convenient means of crossing the river that provided initial incentive for a bridge linking the Port and peninsula. Fabricated from iron components manufactured by English company Westwood, Baillie & Co. It featured a central ‘swing’ span mounted on a turntable that could be rotated 90 degrees to allow vessels to pass through the bridge. The swing span’s operation was controlled from a wooden tower mounted on a steel gantry that crossed the bridge laterally along its central pier. From this position, the bridge operator had a clear view of both the river and adjacent roadways. A hydraulic mechanism designed by Sir William Armstrong & Co. of Newcastle-on-Tyne rotated the swing span and was originally powered by a steam engine. Although weighing approximately 600 tons (600 000 kilograms), the swing mechanism was reportedly ‘so perfect that it [could] be opened and closed with the utmost ease’. When rotated to the ‘open’ position, the swing span created a void measuring 47 feet, 6 inches (14.5 metres) through which one or more vessels could pass. In terms of overall length, the bridge measured 320 feet (97.5 metres) between abutments. Its maximum width was 38 feet (11.6 metres). Pedestrian lanes measuring 6 feet, 6 inches (2 metres) across were situated along the periphery of each side of the bridge, and were separated from vehicle traffic by ornamental iron balustrading. Railway tracks occupied the centre of the bridge and were separated from vehicle traffic by cast-iron kerbs. Placement of railway tracks on the approaches to either side of the bridge was completed by September 1877

The first test of its structural integrity occurred on 31 December, when a locomotive pulling four trucks and twelve carriages successfully crossed the span. The first passenger train service to Lefevre Peninsula commenced on 3 January 1878 and ferried approximately 500 people between Port Adelaide and Semaphore. An official opening ceremony for the new bridge took place on 7 February 1878 and was led by South Australian governor Sir William FD Jervois, for whom the span was named. The Jervois Bridge was the first to employ a swing mechanism in Australia, and the only example of its kind erected in South Australia. Although originally estimated to cost £36 300, the bridge’s final price tag (£65 000) was nearly twice that amount. Jervois Bridge remained in use until August 1966, when it was officially closed to make way for a modern medium-level fixed span. On the orders of Port Adelaide’s City Engineer W.B. Hagan, the old Jervois Bridge control tower and its supporting gantry were removed and retained when the span was demolished. The structure was subsequently moved to Nile Street, where it currently serves as an entrance archway to the Port Dock Markets car park. An Australian Institute of Engineers historic marker that commemorates the original Jervois Bridge was placed adjacent to the gantry and unveiled in a ceremony on 16 October 1994. Source:


AFL ANZAC DAY ROUND On Wednesday 19th April Defence Shed was asked to assist the Port Adelaide Football Club in the pre-game commemoration service for the ANZAC Day game on the Friday night, Port Adelaide vs Carlton at Adelaide Oval. Port Adelaide Football Club needed a minimum of 50 ADF Members and Veterans and their Families in the middle of the ground at the start of the game as part of a special ANZAC Day Ceremony were the crowd of 50,000 would say Thank You for your service. With limited time at hand Defence Shed put the word out through it’s network and managed to get over 100, ensuring the pre-game event went ahead. Port offered free tickets to the game for all those that participated. Defence Shed members and supporters joined Port and Carlton players and representatives of the Australian Defence Forces on field for the traditional pre-match ceremony as part of Friday night’s opening Anzac Round game. It’s a coup for Defence Shed to assist Port Adelaide FC, which has a long association with the defence forces, both through the service of past players, and its work with the ADF through its community programs. Among other pre-game events on the Friday night was the traditional ADF v Australian Combined Emergency Services curtain-raiser, a unique on-ground flag ceremony, and the traditional Ode of Remembrance and Minute’s Silence. Thelma Kelton present the Peter Badcoe VC Medal to the player who best displayed the Anzac Spirit in the match.


The medal was struck in memory of her brother, who died in combat in Vietnam and is South Australia’s most recent recipient of the nation’s highest military honour.


19 Apr 2017 Portside Weekly

“A VETERANS’ support group based in Port Adelaide is keen to get the word out about their latest initiative – a project which allows people to track down their own family military history. Defence Shed opened on Nile St in 2015 to assist current and former members of the military overcome PTSD and feelings of isolation. It has about 30 members who take part in community activities or stop in for a chat. Joseph Mack is serving in the defence force and is the organisations treasurer. Mr Mack said the shed, which is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10am-4pm, is helping members of the community discover their family’s military history. “Last year to coincide with the centenary of Anzac Day, the national archives digitised all the records for WWI members so a lot of people are unaware that it is relatively simple to search and get digital records,” Mr Mack said. He said the shed was there to assist people to search the archives. “A lot of our community projects are physical, like gardening, whereas this is a project that if people are not able to do things physically they can come in and research stuff,” Mr Mack said.”

ADF Member Joseph Mack and Veteran Leonie Elizabeth Armbruster were interviewed for the local Portside Messenger about the History Project People can Get involved in at the Defence Shed.


Defence Shed answered the ‘call’ when the Anglican Parish of Port Adelaide - St. Paul’s Church approached DS to assist in building a Pallet Fence for their Community Garden. The Garden had taking a bit of weathering from the winds that come off the Port River. The Pallet Fence defused the wind to help act as a wind break.

Strength lies in differences, not in similarities


HONOUR, THANK, REMEMBER, RENEW. Homecoming In June Defence Shed was there to welcome HMAS Adelaide to her home town. Many of our members attended various functions in welcoming the crew and a few brews were enjoyed at the Port Adelaide Naval Association. Defence Shed also maned a Sausage Sizzle on the Sunday Open Day with the assistance of Semaphore and Port Adelaide RSL.

AVM Smart Visits It was a Honour to have Air ViceMarshal (AVM) Tracy Smart, Commander Joint Health and Surgeon General of the ADF pay us an unofficial visit at Defence Shed.

to take the opportunity for a visit and see for herself whilst in Adelaide.

AVM Smart was in town as the Keynote speaker at The Repat Foundation – The Road Home’s, 2016 Remembrance Business Breakfast.

Members were briefed about the ADF’s ongoing commitment into the Mental Health and well-being of our service men and women and about new programs and services available to them.

AVM Smart had heard of our good work at Defence Shed and was keen

With a tour of the facilities and an explanation on how Defence


Shed’s ADF Members involvement in community engagement projects, activities that strengthen their knowledge and contribute to improving the lives of others, AVM Smart was pleased and could see the positive benefits of the Shed. We thank AVM Smart for taking the time out of her busy schedule to visit the Defence Shed.

Defence families braved the cold, wet and windy weather to come out for DCO family day at the Maritime Museum last winter. The weather was so bad that the BBQ lunch to be provided by the Semaphore and Port Adelaide RSL was nearly canceled due to the conditions. Defence Shed stepped up at the last minute and cooked the BBQ at its near by location and transported the food back and forward to the museum for everyone to enjoy. Inside Captain Horatio Bumblefingers was a big hit with the kids as was the badge making, but the highlight of the day was the exhibit ‘The Art of Science: Baudin’s Voyages’ - from the copper plate used for printing early maps of Australia to the early paintings of our wildlife. It is amazing to think these things were hidden in a museum basement in France for 200 years before being brought to Australia for display! Look out for the next DCO family day and thanks to the Maritime Museum and for their continued support to ADF families.

Thank You Defence Shed was selected as the first Charity to man the gates for the 2017 Gate Collections at RAAF Base Edinburgh. It was a great opportunity to raise awareness and funds for Defence Shed. We handed out brochures about the Shed and personally thanked everyone for their service. With the generous support shown by all we managed to raise $1500 which will help us assist members, their families and the community.


Shed Improvements Garden Projects Thank you everyone that came down to the Defence Shed over the past year for a chat, a brew or to lend a hand in our projects.

a great rustic backdrop for the “Avenues of Honour Rosemary”, flowers and herbs.

We really do appreciate everyone that volunteers their time to create a warm atmosphere for our veterans, their family and friends.

Over the next 12 months our goals are to create an outdoor play area for the kids to play, and to paint the exterior of the historic building, giving it a new lease of life.

The building transformation is really taking shape with the kitchen installed, floor boards repaired and plasterboard install almost finished. The outside the garden bed backing was finished and is making

“It is not in the Hoping that we might heal... It is in the Doing that will help us move forward” Janet Seahorn


Easter Egg Hunt It isn’t all work at Defence Shed, on the Easter long weekend we had a bit of fun with our Easter Egg hunt. All the Kids got to make their Easter bags before going out and collecting. For many of our ADF members the long weekend was the first opportunity for them to visit the shed and bring their families.


Weekly Peer2Peer Breakfasts Our weekly Saturday morning breakfasts are a popular way to catch up, feel connected and get / give Peer2Peer support to one another. For some members it is the only time in the week they get to engage with other Peers. Thanks to Babcock with their generous on-going support of this important initiative, over the past 12 months we have managed to connect with and share a cooked Breakfast with 1196 ADF, veterans and their family members

Regular BBQ’s Socialising at the Monthly BBQ’s to commemorate special military dates, service retirement dinners and members birthday parties have all brought us closer together as a group.


Fun Activities for the kids Fun, Creative The shed’s littlest members have been enjoying the busy start to the year with lots to see and do with their own Kids Shed’s projects. The Easter family day was a big hit with the kids doing some Easter crafts followed by an egg hunt outdoors.


They have been developing their green thumbs helping to tend the veggies and flowers. Hole digging

and veggie picking are always the favourite jobs. There was much excitement when three new chickens joined the shed family. The kids decided they all needed names so we ran a naming competition. Rocko, Honey and Nugget were the winning names! There are plans in the works to create a fun space for the kids outside with the addition of a cubby house in the garden area.

Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.

Kids Books

We involve the kids in the things we create for them to play and enjoy like the hand made Christmas tree or Outdoor domino sets

My Dad’s in the Australian Navy Hayley Boswell is a lawyer, mum and proud partner of a Chief Petty Officer in the Australian Navy. My Dad’s in the Australian Navy is Hayley’s first book, aimed at giving young children a tool for understanding the important work undertaken by their defence dads. It explains to kids that when Dad’s are away, it’s not because he wants to be away from them but he is helping to protect Australia and its marine life. To order your copy of “ My Dad’s in the Australian Navy” contact Hayley through her Facebook Page at


Steve Rose talks about Dr. John Whelan’s book, Ghost in the Ranks: Forgotten Voices & Military Mental Health and gives us a Canadian insight into Transition issues. Many people think PTSD is the root of all mental health problems among veterans. This oversimplification is often reinforced by behaviors considered abnormal. One veteran I spoke with claimed to have stopped a dangerous driver, thrown him out of the car, and “gave him a life lesson.” Most people would accuse the veteran of needing anger management classes or therapy to control his PTSD, but if you’re a veteran, you might be able to empathize with his reaction. Many veterans experience anger, cynicism, or a heightened concern for justice during or after their service. These are not necessarily reactions to trauma or the result of PTSD, rather, they are the result of characteristics instilled in the military, but are no-longer adaptive in a civilian context. A fellow Canadian colleague, Dr. John Whelan, has recently explored this particular issue in his book, Ghost in the Ranks: Forgotten Voices & Military Mental Health. Both a veteran and a clinical psychologist, he is a rare blend of both worlds. His work challenges the dominant psychological paradigm concerning PTSD among service-members and first-responders. The following sections highlight the major insights in his book. Transition issues are a cultural problem. Rather than focusing on ‘fixing the brains’ of individual veterans, we need to recognize the social/relational causes of distress experienced during the transition to civilian life. This requires understanding the military-civilian cultural gap. A highly collective military culture instills a strong sense of social identity among its members. Dr. Whelan writes:

I understand the legacy of military identity—all we had was each other, and once the identity change from civilian to military member is complete, it is often the only place where we can truly ever fit again. It can be a profound and fundamental shift in character and outlook that few people can ever understand unless they have experienced it.

“I am trapped behind the mask, but I am something entirely different inside I am alone, cut-off, and just tired of having to be ready for anything..” 22

Dr. Whelan describes coming out of this environment in the following way:

The experience is like thawing out after experiencing frostbite. Sure, coming inside to the warmth feels great, but it is also incredibly painful as blood circulation returns to the damaged area. Another distinct aspect of military culture that makes it difficult to transition includes black-and-white thinking and the need to compartmentalize ones emotions in order to maintain operational effectiveness. These characteristics are learned in the military, but are easily seen as mental health issues in civilian life. Dr. Whelan gives the following example:

…take the issue of depression, a longstanding concern for the military. This so-called disease is characterized by behaviours like black-and-white thinking, perfectionistic standards and mental rigidity, an over-developed sense of responsibility and self-blame, a generally negative focus, emotional avoidance, and intolerance for ambiguity. What is notable about this is that it describes routine life within military culture almost perfectly. Therefore, it is probably not by accident that the rates of depression within the military are estimated to be twice the rates for civilians. Traits that keep service-members alive in combat are not functional in civilian life, potentially causing veterans to emotionally disengage from family and loved ones. Dr. Whelan draws a connection between this learned trait and alcohol/ substance use:

…we learn to switch off emotionally. This emotional vacuum may also explain the value of alcohol and other substances among military personnel—it quiets the vigilant thinking brain, allowing people to move to a more emotional version of themselves, at least temporarily. Veterans are highly trained upon entry into the military, but are let go with minimal retraining upon entering back into civilian life. As a result, veterans may experience a profound culture shock upon entering back into an individualistic civilian context, in addition to being left with highly developed compartmentalization skills, causing them to feel detached from civilians, emotionally isolated from loved ones, and perhaps frustrated by a diagnosis that does not fully explain their experience.

Injured veterans may feel betrayed by the military.

We need to rethink treatment and prevention.

The military is an institutional contradiction. Embodying characteristics of both a traditional family and a modern bureaucracy, it idealizes loyalty and brotherhood while also functioning within an impersonal system of operationally effective rules and regulations. Dr. Whelan describes the experience of injured veterans in the following words:

Dr. Whelan emphasizes the need to think beyond preexisting diagnostic categories:

Many of these men and women have come to see themselves as a consumable resource… if they recover, they can be accepted back into the family. If they do not recover, however, they are replaced and, more often than not, they are forgotten by the larger family, which has to move on… Within the notions of brotherhood and family, injured people expect to be drawn closer, but within a bureaucratic system they are often distanced and processed. From my own research, many veterans emphasized this point. Often times, the injury itself was not as difficult as the experience of separation from ones communal unit and subsequently dealing with an impersonal bureaucracy. As Dr. Whelan states:

A mental health diagnosis turns soldiers into individuals once again, and in the military there is no room for individuals. Veterans feel betrayed and isolated upon witnessing corruption. Having invested so much in the group, service-members experience a heightened sense of betrayal upon witnessing an act of corruption. This ‘institutional betrayal’ is one aspect of moral injury, a concept I highlighted in the past three articles. Dr. Whelan describes this phenomenon in the following words:

From basic training onward, soldiers are steeped in highminded codes of conduct, discipline, ethical imperatives, and a view of the military as an organization larger than life. The reality is often very different, however, for many people. The same organization can be coldly logical and arbitrary. Rules can be bent to benefit people who are liked, and these same rules can be used strategically to root out suspected problems. He describes the story of a woman who was sexually harassed by a senior officer. Upon reporting the incident to her Regimental Sargent Major, she was told, “Are you out of your mind bringing this to me? Don’t you get it? Hell, I could rape you right here in my office right now and nobody would do a god-dammed thing about it.” She was considered a ‘problem’ for the officers involved, and when eventually going to the Chief of Defense Staff, she was considered a ‘problem’ for the image of the institution. She was offered a secret deal to drop her grievance and there was no talk of consequences for those involved. Corruption or organizational image-management can lead to a profound sense of institutional betrayal. Dr. Whelan emphasizes this point:

The real threat to the health of the institution is cynicism—when members stop believing. Cynicism tells members that it is a charade, that nobody really cares, and that they are essentially on their own. It fuels reactions of betrayal and perceptions of neglect. Its tentacles reach across the institution; it is in the ranks, and it festers quietly like an unseen cancer. Upon being injured or upon witnessing corruption, servicemembers may experience a profound sense of betrayal, leaving them isolated. This sense of isolation is then amplified upon transition to a civilian context where their highly developed compartmentalization skills further isolate them from loved ones and other civilians. This is the dangerous compounded effect of military betrayal and civilian isolation.

…a PTSD diagnosis can miss the particular struggle for veterans—some people believe they have lost parts of themselves that they want to have back while others have taken on things from the military that they need to unload. Drawing on therapeutic experience, he describes recovery in the following words:

An example of what veterans tell me: “I am trapped behind the mask, but I am something entirely different inside. I am alone, cut-off, and just tired of having to be ready for anything.” When men and women can find a place, often with their peers—the people who matter— they can learn to trust again and to lower their guards, and the real miracle I often get to witness is that they start to come back to life. As many veterans have told him, “they have to learn how to regain some of their humanity.” When veterans are no-longer able to serve due to injury or institutional betrayal, we can not simply expect them to adjust to civilian life by undergoing civilian treatments based on civilian diagnoses. We need to look at military culture and its impact on social/relational issues that may lead to a sense of isolation and despair. Dr. Whelan concludes with the following insight:

Military veterans and other first responders who struggle with mental health concerns could be telling us about a fundamental emptiness of an everyday life they no longer want to be a part of.

Finding Purpose Steve Rose holds a PhD in sociology from Queen’s University. His dissertation inquires into the problem of suicidal ideation among Canadian military Veterans returning from Afghanistan. Web: LinkedIn: Twitter: Email:

Ghost in the Ranks: Forgotten Voices & Military Mental Health John Whelan, PhD. is a registered Psychologist and Director of AssessmentTreatment Services for Whelan Psychological Services. He is a clinician, researcher, and program administrator. He joined the Canadian Forces in 1977 and left in 1985 to pursue academic training. Forces in 1977 and left in 1985 to pursue


TOOLS TO ASSIST VVCS - At Ease It’s not unusual to experience sadness, distress or anger after deployment. The At Ease website has Tools that can help veterans, ADF personnel, and family members identify the symptoms of not coping. When you need to reach out, seek treatment or identify effective ways to move forward, At Ease can provide tips, treatment options & resources. At Ease also has clinical resources for health professionals who may be treating members of the veteran & defence community.

Click here to visit AT EASE website 24

If you need assistance contact Defence Shed, we will help find you the solution. Discretion is assured.

We are here to assist Educating while in service, assisting through transition and helping whilst a veteran - a ‘whole of life’ approach. Defence Shed’s Aim is to work alongside Defence, Government, Health Providers, ESO’s and Associations with a ‘whole of life’ approach to assist current and ex-serving ADF Personnel with service related health issues.

Help Seeking •

18% of ADF members sought help from stress, emotional, mental health or family problems in the previous 12 months.

Only 6.3% of ADF members reported not knowing where to seek help.

Being treated differently (27.6%) and harm to career (26.9%) were the highest rated perceived stigmas.

The highest rated barrier to seeking help was concern it would reduce deployability (36.9%).

Research shows that women in the ADF are more likely to seek help than their male counterparts.

Women in the ADF are more likely to know where to get help than their male counterparts, with only 5.4% of women reporting that they did not know where to get help compared to 6.5% of men.

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.



Defence Shed partners with leading Defence Companies to help them facilitate grass-roots projects at a community level. Defence Shed can assist your company to find the right project to invest in, to reach the desired outcome . Being a volunteer organisation makes sure that 100% of funds raised for a project go towards that project and not absorbed in administration fees, general revenue, wages etc. Defence Shed is a fully incorporated not for profit and a fully Charitable (DGR) organisation.



The Defence Shed is fortunate to have supporters / believers like The Last Post

(TLP) magazine and Greg T Ross. Right from its inception Greg has been regularly visiting the shed on Saturday’s to check on the progress, get updates and inspiration for articles in the magazine. Greg generously gives us space in the magazine which we share with those who support Defence Shed. Greg is also the major contributor to our library of books on offer for members to take home and read.

“The Last Post first came to life in the late 1960’s as a small almanac/directory for returned diggers from the Second World War. It was edited and published by my father, Raymond Thorsby Ross, from a small office in George Street Sydney. Dad had fought with the 2nd 10th during WW2. Dad’s Dad, my grandfather, Joseph Thorsby Ross, fought at Gallipoli.” - Greg T Ross, Editor, Publisher, The Last Post magazine.

The Last Post distribution is 100,000 copies electronically and 30,000 printed. Distributed through subscription, mail-out to corporate supporters, state and national libraries, RSL’s and Governments. TLP magazine is produced bi-annually, for Anzac Day and for Remembrance Day. The TLP e-News is released every three months, and is another way to connect and keep in touch with veterans and their families.


Everyone is equal under one roof 31 Nile St. Port Adelaide 04006449305


Image courtesy of Department of Defence

local community support programme

Defence Shed is proud to have been selected as a charity of choice by leading international engineering support services company Babcock Pty Ltd. Babcock successfully operates in various industries including defence, mining and construction, aviation, maritime, ports, emergency services, energy, cyber security and engineering consultancy. Through it’s ‘Local Community Support Program’ Babcock seeks to engage with the communities in proximity to their sites and operations. It also provides opportunities for employees to assist with local initiatives and support local charities that are important to them. Babcock has committed funds to current & ex-serving Australian Defence Force Members (ADF) by sponsoring Defence Shed’s ‘Diggers Emergency Fund’ program. This fund assists homeless Veterans with temporary accommodation, emergency bills or unexpected cost that arise. Babcock is also sponsoring Defence Shed’s ‘Saturday Morning Breakfast Catch Ups’. Every week Defence Shed serve our current & ex-serving ADF Members and their families a cooked breakfast. It’s a chance for Members to get involved in the care of their mates through Peer2Peer Support, networking and information sharing. Defence Shed look forward to working together in partnership with Babcock in helping to assist our current & ex-serving ADF Members with service related health issues.



FINANCIALS 2016-2017 Defence Shed is 100% volunteer run, no wages, salaries, directors fees, no lurks or perks. We do a lot on a little budget, we reuse, we re-purpose, find new uses for things. We renew. We have helped create a place of belonging for many who had no where else. Because we believe in our veterans welfare. Some of our members have been diagnosed with PTSD & Anxiety, and some weeks they struggle to get to the shed, but they do. Some of our members work 45+ hours per week in their jobs and their own businesses, and then find time to help out and contribute on the weekends. We invite you to come down to Defence Shed, 31 Nile St. Port Adelaide on any Wednesday or Saturday, have a look, have a chat, ask questions and get involved.

Available @

Two new ways you can help support Defence Shed... 75c from every #bbqshedloverspizza sold is Donated to Defence Shed

Or at your favourite Domino’s Store Quote #bbqshedloverspizza

Ma g a z i ne

Quality Management WGCDR Catie Williams Bunnings Woodville Wow! FM Councillor Helen Wright Mark Butler MP Largs Bay RSL Henley and Grange RSL Port Adelaide Naval Assc.

Sweet Amber The Pannini King Drake Foodland Port Adelaide FC Adelaide Crows FC Bakers Delight Westlakes Digger’s Rest Bistro Lindt Australia

Australia On Track McHale’s Shoe Repairs Mr V Music Adelaide 36ers Lickerish Eagle Boys Pizza Semaphore Whipped Bake Bar Cafe National Pharmacies

Devotee Port Princess Dolphin Cruises Semaphore Pets & Garden Roadshow Entertainment Department of Veteran Affairs Chemmart Pharmacy Semaphore Adelaide Zoo Maggie Beer


Defence Shed Magazine 2017  

Welcome to Defence Shed's 2017 Magazine. In this issue we take a look at ‘Serving Country’ photographic exhibition, we learn how community c...

Defence Shed Magazine 2017  

Welcome to Defence Shed's 2017 Magazine. In this issue we take a look at ‘Serving Country’ photographic exhibition, we learn how community c...