Tonight I want to introduce you to a friend of mine. Some of you might remember posts that have introduced Josh to you in the past but with so many new people reading the blog I figured a bit of a re-cap would be appropriate.
So, meet Josh. Waaaaay back in October 2011 when the first 25 quilts were sent off we sent 15 to a Warrant Officer that I was in touch with for himself and his team and we sent another ten to him that he was able to give to those that he thought might like a little bit of extra mail. He chose to give one to Josh and of those extra ten quilts, Josh was the only one we ever heard back from. Given how new we were, and the fact that most of those quilts went to members of the Special Operations Task Force, we were lucky to hear from Josh.
It just so happens that Josh sent us the first photo that we were able to publish on the blog!
And as if that was not enough, he also promised to bring his family to meet me when he came home. True to his word, a couple of months after he arrived home he and his lovely family came for a visit.
That was mid 2012.
Fast forward nearly two years and I contacted the family again after Josh commented on something on the Facebook page. I replied to his comment and he did not respond so I fired off an email to say hello and see how the family was. That was when Megan wrote back to me and told me that things were not good. Josh had been diagnosed with PTSD and Depression and had been struggling.
As it happened in the next few weeks I was scheduled to go to a March Out at Kapooka. I asked if it would be okay to visit the family. I had intended to stay in a hotel but Josh and Megan invited me to stay with them and I decided to take them up on their kind offer.
The time came and when I arrived at their home I was greeted with a huge hug from Josh and I felt as welcome in their home as I would have with any of my close friends. I had been worrried how things would be. I had no idea how Josh would be, would he find it stressful having me there, but I need not have worried. As we sat at the kitchen table that night Josh and Megan talked frankly about how he had coped when he came home, how things had gradually deteriorated, how things had hit rock bottom and finally how he had sought and eventually received help.
I felt very privileged to be invited into their home and treated so warmly and I came away with a much better understanding of what Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is and the impact it can have on a family.
Josh is no longer in the Army, having been discharged for medical reasons later last year.
Not too long after Josh received the gift of a Digger Dog called Lucky. Young Diggers provides assistance dogs to serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members who are dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD). You can learn more about Young Diggers here.
That gorgeous black dog has provided Josh with extra support that he can lean on, especially when Megan is away at work. Recently Josh and Megan decided to share their story and you can read it here PLEASE take the time to read it now.
I am sharing this story with Josh and Megan’s permission. If it helps one person to understand a little more about what PTSD is then it is worthwhile. Josh is trying to raise $37500 which is enough money to provide 15 Assistance Dogs to Defence members with PTSD. So far he has managed to raise almost $15000. Awesome effort.
If you are interested in donating please check out Josh’s fund raising page here.
Maybe we can kick his fundraising along a bit and another member with PTSD will be able to have an assistance dog and another family will have a better chance of coping with PTSD.
Another way you can support Digger Dogs is by checking out Beside Them. They have created a working dog charm and $10 from each charm will go to Digger Dogs! Well done to Beside Them. While you are there check out the rest of their charms as well.
Just before I finish, on a special note, I spoke to Josh on Friday. During that phone call he told me how grateful he is to the town he now lives in for the amazing community spirit and the way the town has supported him. I was blown away by some of the things that he told me, just little things that businesses and people in the community do to make it easier for Josh to live there. I just want to say thank you to the community from the bottom on my heart for taking in Josh and his family and for making them feel welcome and supported. It is not a small thing that you have done. I wish we had more towns like yours.
And if you want to learn more about PTSD check out tonight’s story on 4 Corners – another two brave veteran’s shared their stories. See it here.
Till next time……………….take care of yourselves and of your mates.