Tell us a bit about yourself:
My name is Hannah Taino-Spick, I'm 33 years old, living in Darwin, NT with my husband (also a veteran) and three fur-babies (x2 Labradors and x1 German Shepherd).
What are you up to these days (work, study)?
Since medically discharging from the Royal Australian Air Force in 2015, I have found myself working, living and breathing the world of academia. It is certainly something that I never saw myself getting into, or falling in love with, but study and a thirst for knowledge was really the only thing that kept me afloat - personally, mentally, and eventually professionally, since discharge.
Since discharging, I have completed postgraduate studies in International and Community Development, Mental Health Practice, Gender Studies, Social Work, and Therapy Dog practice. I am currently completing a PhD at Charles Darwin University on the experiences of ADF contemporary veterans who go onto higher education post-discharge.
What's your background (military service, deployment experience if any, career highlights)?
From 2008 to 2015, I was a member of the Royal Australian Air Force. I was employed as a Logistics Officer, where I first completed my higher education studies at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra, and then my Logistics Officer training in Wagga Wagga, NSW.
I had postings to Townsville, where I was involved with logistics in both the warehouse, and on the tarmac loading and unloading military aircraft. In Wagga Wagga, I spent time in the RAAF School of Admin and Logistics Training. One of the busiest time periods of my career was my time spent in Townsville, reacting to many of the local, regional and global events of the time - such as assisting with the after math of the QLD Floods, Cyclone Yasi, and looking after the Air Force's assets on their bare bases located in remote locations.
As a Veteran have you faced any personal or professional challenges since transitioning from the ADF?
After discharging from the ADF, I felt worthless, vulnerable and lost. My medical discharge meant that I was no longer 'fit' or 'wanted' by Defence. It was a sense of loss and worthlessness that I felt and carried for many years after discharge. I spent many years of rebuilding my sense of self, worth and 'new' identity; navigating a somewhat unfamiliar, non-militarised world months and years after I returned my uniform.
A supportive family, partner, and my beloved dogs was a huge part of finding my way back; but it was study that anchored me, and helped me rebuild a foundation of self-belief, confidence and worth. Through study I have reclaimed my self-belief, and have pleasantly found myself thriving on study. It's an appetite that has fed itself, I find myself consuming as much knowledge as I can, where I see and believe it capable of providing me with a future, a career, and purpose.
It is why I passionately believe in the work ASVA is doing around Australia; spreading the knowledge and network of like-minded, knowledge thirsty student veterans, who may not have envisioned themselves studying at university at first, but now find themselves also thriving on the challenges of study, and knowing that it is also providing them with a bright(er) future post-discharge.
What do you wish the general public were more aware of about Veterans?
That contemporary Australian veterans are valuable, talented and contributing members to Australian society after service and discharge. Discharge experiences may vary, but when self-searching and finding the right opportunity or pathway post-discharge; skills and traits honed by the military experience, such as discipline, determination and a sense of purpose, are invaluable to the workplace and wider community.