Breaking the Stigma Surrounding our Veterans - Ben's Story - VIC

Posted by Top Livin on

Tell us a bit about yourself: 

My name is Ben, I’m 25 and I live in Melbourne with a few mates and my dog.

What are you up to these days?

I’m about to enter the final year of my Bachelor of Media and Communications at Deakin University’s Burwood Campus. I work, casually, in the warehouse of a major furniture company, I volunteer with my local RSL and I’m about to commence an internship with veteran owned e-commerce business.

What's your background (military service, deployment experience if any, career highlights)? 

I left high school in Year 11 to join the ADF at my earliest opportunity. In 2011, at age 17, I enlisted in the Army and joined the Royal Australian Corps of Transport as an Air Dispatcher.

After completing Air Dispatch and Driver initial training, I served in 176 Air Dispatch Squadron, as well as Air Movements Training and Development Unit.

I also completed a 12-month Strategic Engagement Indonesian Language Course at the Defence Force School of Languages and worked on multiple international exercises providing specialist logistics and language support alongside the Indonesian, US, South Korean, Japanese, UK and New Zealand militaries.

Through these experiences, I developed a keen interest in language and began writing articles which were published in the Australian Army Transport Journal.

As a Veteran have you faced any personal or professional challenges since transitioning from the ADF?

I left the ADF in late 2016 to pursue my passion for writing and to focus on developing a professional civilian career. When I left, I realised that – in the eyes of the general community - the ADF training I had counted for very little. I struggled to get into university in Victoria because my military service or training wasn’t assessed for tertiary admissions and my ADF language qualifications didn’t come with civilian accreditation.

I reached out to the Australian Student Veterans Association (ASVA) and, with their help, I was accepted into a Bachelor of Media and Communications at Deakin University and was even awarded academic credit towards my studies thanks to the training I did in the ADF.

I also struggled to juggle the demands of life, employment, and study. I initially found employment as a recruiter at a recruiting agency, but quickly realised that the demands of this job were negatively impacting my studies, so I chose to leave – cutting my income dramatically – to focus on my future.

Thanks to ASVA, I was able to receive some financial support for myself, and my family, via their partnership with Melbourne Legacy and their Education and Training Grant.

What do you wish the general public were more aware of about Veterans?

I wish people understood that veterans are transitioning into the community with really valuable skills, both military-accredited and soft skills like time management, attention to detail, discipline and the ability to communicate clearly and effectively.

We may have developed these through training which is non-traditional, in the civilian sense, but they are highly transferrable and beneficial to all civilian workplaces. We’re not just gunslingers with tattoos!

I’m also working on a project which combines photography and interviews with Veterans to highlight their stories of transition within the community, seeking to broadly increase understanding, highlight strengths, and reduce stigma regarding my community. 

If you are struggling and feel you need to speak up, check out our Get Help page for organisations that can help.  If you would like more information about the work of ASVA, click here to check out their website