Wounded soldiers cycle for rehabilitation on a royal Anzac Day


Once-wounded soldiers are riding from Sydney to Canberra to tell Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge that recent veterans need community support.

It's Destination Canberra for this group of cyclists.
Their target : the 60th anniversary of the Remembrance Drive but also Friday's Anzac Day royal visit to the Australian War Memorial

Navy veteran Robbie Thompson will give the royal couple a Victoria Cross plaque carved from a lone pine grown from a seed sent from Gallipoli.

But the group, Soldier On, has a message for the royals lest older conflicts, such as Gallipoli, grab the spotlight given the looming Anzac centenary.
"The message is that there is a contemporary veterans group that really needs the support of our community", said Soldier On's Chief Executive, John Bale.
"At the same time, the group has that direct link back to ANZAC."
The group includes six once-wounded servicemen and women and for them, the road trip is also about rehabilitation.

In Australia, the number of suicides by soldiers and veterans from Afghanistan reportedly exceeds deaths in combat.

Former signalman Chad Dobbs returned from his tour of duty anxious and depressed, having seen much.
"The blood is real, the bullets are real, and the bodies are real", he said. "And that is very hard to deal with, over time."

Robbie Thompson left the navy to become a firefighter but was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder following Victoria's devastating Black Saturday blazes of 2009.

He says getting psychological support within Emergency Services is harder than in the ADF.
"I think (getting support) is still very new, but it's certainly on the rise in the Emergency Services", he said.

But the journey ahead has Chad Dobbs excited.
"A lot of people in my generation don't want a handout, we want support and we want to identify with likeminded people", he said.
"Planning the trip has been very beneficial for my recovery."
Source SBS

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch