BAT­TLING TO FIND POST-WAR PEACE OF MIND

Fight­ing medics on cop­ing with the bat­tle­field’s trau­matic toll back in civil­ian life

Balonne Beacon - - NEWS - KRISTIN SHORTEN

THEY are elite fighters, op­er­at­ing in high-per­form­ing teams with a pow­er­ful sense of pur­pose in their life — un­til the day they dis­charge from the mil­i­tary.

“Then you get out and you’re at home wash­ing the dishes, tak­ing the dog for a walk,” said Ma­jor Bram Con­nolly, who spent more than 20 years in the Aus­tralian De­fence Force.

“You’re no longer in a Black­hawk at night rac­ing across the desert with some­one yelling out ‘30 sec­onds’ be­fore you’re run­ning out and get­ting shot at and you’re shoot­ing back.”

All of a sud­den vet­er­ans are at home, thrust back into “nor­mal” life with fam­i­lies and do­mes­tic du­ties. For many, the ini­tial tran­si­tion back into civil­ian so­ci­ety is fraught.

It is at least equally true for the Voodoo Medics, the elite group of med­i­cal spe­cial­ists who ac­com­pany our spe­cial forces into com­bat whose sto­ries are re­vealed in the News Corp se­ries.

Be­cause of the na­ture of their work, even sea­soned spe­cial forces sol­diers say the medics saw the worst of the trauma on the bat­tle­field.

By the time Ma­jor Dan Pronk, a for­mer doc­tor within Aus­tralia’s Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Com­mand, dis­charged in 2014, he felt like he had merged with his role of com­bat doc­tor.

“I cut my hair down into a Mo­hawk and grew a goa­tee beard,” he said.

“All emo­tion was re­moved

Voodoo Medic Dan Pronk in the Afghan war zone.

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