Brett Wright served as a paratrooper in the Australian Defence Force for 6 years.
He has jumped out of planes, been injured, and lost friends all in the name of service.
Mr Wright knew his work was impacting him while serving, but it wasn't until after he left that he understood the full extent of his trauma.
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He said while serving it was frowned upon to admit you were struggling and so the issues built up.
"When I got out everything completely unravelled, there was no transition at all," Mr Wright said.
"It was basically doors closed no support, no nothing - you go from being a soldier to being out in civ (sic) street.
"I left in '06 and really started to come unstuck, '07 my marriage fell apart, [I was] drinking heavily and things like nightmares started.
"I was getting about two hours sleep a night - I struggled in normal workplaces because I had anger management issues and I treated people like soldiers."
It has been 15 years since Mr Wright left the armed forces and in that time he has tried to end his life 12 times.
In 2005, one of Mr Wright's best mates was killed while serving overseas.
He said that was when he knew something was seriously wrong.
"That just ruined me at the time because he was only 21 and he had so much in front of him," he said.
"When we buried him in Perth that changed something in me dramatically."
It took three years after that before Mr Wright was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
To this day he still suffers from cluster headaches triggered by suicidal nightmares.
Now, Mr Wright is sharing his story in the hope it will help strengthen calls for a dedicated service where veterans and first responders can go for help with treatment and transition.
A group called PTSD Frontline is seeking to build a world-first centre in Tasmania which would provide health, accommodation, training and other support services to veterans and first responders.
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Keith Payne VC and Sir Peter Cosgrove have both agreed to be patrons of the centre should it come to fruition.
The idea is also backed by the Australian Medical Association, the Australasian College of General Practitioners, the Royal Australian College of Psychiatrists, the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine and relevant unions.
The push comes after Tasmania was left out of funding, which was announced last year, to build veteran wellbeing centres across Australia.
In June, the state and federal governments joined forces to announce a feasibility study to determine if a veteran wellbeing centre would be viable in Tasmania.
While the experience of trauma might be different the end result is the same. PTSD is PTSD whether it's in a first responder or whether it is in a veteran.Michaela Wright
Mr Wright said there was a desperate need for a specialised service in Tasmania and he wants first responders included.
"Tasmania absolutely needs this, not just for veterans, but for emergency services as well," he said.
"While the experience of trauma might be different the end result is the same," Mr Wright's wife Michaela added.
"PTSD is PTSD whether it's in a first responder or whether it is in a veteran."
Mrs Wright, who has previously worked with veterans as a counsellor and advocate, has witnessed the toll PTSD has taken on her husband.
"Had we had access to something like [a specialised centre] I think Brett would have been further down the track in terms of his treatment," she said.
"[After the last attempt to take his own life] he ended up in St Luke's for six weeks, they had begged him to go to Melbourne to Ward 17 because they have specialists there.
"But the thought of leaving the comfort of his home, the safety he of where he knows, going into an unknown with unknown people, being away from his family, it was too much and it could have cost him his life."
Mrs Wright hopes the state and federal governments will answer the call so first responders and veterans living with PTSD can get the support they need.
Working in prisons
Another person who hopes to see the specialist service materialise is Frank Lord.
Mr Lord is a member of the United Workers Union and is the correctional supervisor at Launceston reception prison.
Before working for correctional services in Tasmania Mr Lord served as a military policeman.
He also worked as a policeman for the New South Wales police force and for correctional services in New South Wales.
"I have been involved in assaults against me and I've witnessed staff assaults, inmates assaulting correctional officers, both here in Launceston and Hobart," Mr Lord said.
"When a member gets assaulted it is very traumatic towards the staff members - there are all different levels of assaults, some are physical, some are verbal and then you get the ones where [inmates] could be spitting at you."
Mr Lord said having a dedicated service for where people could go for treatment for mental health-related issues would help decrease the stigma surrounding the conditions.
He said there is a culture of not discussing health issues amongst work colleagues.
"Being a bloke - you hold it ... I do hold it in and in the past, I have got to the stage where you just explode," Mr Lord said.
"The bubble just bursts and you do fall to pieces - it is hard on the family life because family members don't understand what we do as a job."
The stress of emergency departments
Claire Breeze is a member of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation and a nurse at a private hospital in the North.
She has previously worked as a paramedic, in the emergency department as a nurse and was a member of the army reserves.
But before all of that, she served as a medic in the defence force.
She said 'burn out', which is the word nurses prefer instead of PTSD, was quite common.
"Obviously the really traumatic events you go to, especially as a paramedic, do stick in your mind," Mrs Breeze said.
"You park them right back in the back of your mind, you don't want to think about them too much.
"When I was in A and E that's when I started to, I didn't quite know it at the time but it is a thing called depersonalisation and it happens a lot with nurses, become quite, maybe, negative and derogatory about [my] patients."
Mrs Breeze said one particular incident made her realise something wasn't right with her mental health.
"I was handing a patient over and some words came out of my mouth - they were very negative and definitely not who I am or how I was raised," she said.
"As soon as I said the words I thought about it and I thought that's not the kind of nurse I want to be.
"You become quite disillusioned with your career at that point... I knew that I had to get out of that emergency environment and separate myself in terms of my mental health."
Mrs Breeze said having a dedicated specialist service where first responders and emergency service personnel could go to seek help for mental health-related matters would help people get help sooner.
She said eliminating the need for people to present at emergency departments where their colleagues and possibly people they have treated are would help immensely.
"[First responders and veterans] are very like-minded, we've all seen things that the general population probably never ever have seen and to be able to communicate and talk with like-minded people and get that peer support I think is invaluable," Mrs Breeze said.
"Just looking at our sheer numbers I think we do need to collaborate to initiate enough of a cause to move forward."
The original idea
The original idea for a joint wellbeing centre was created after Keith Payne VC suggested to Dr Peter Wirth that he might be suffering from PTSD.
At the time Dr Wirth was working in Mckay, Queensland, and had been introduced to Mr Payne through work he was doing with a men's health charity.
"I went through a period that really snuck up on me," Dr Wirth said.
"I was having difficulties at work and in my marriage and it all came together at one hit - I remember for several months driving home from a country hospital in Victoria and repeatedly seeing one tree that seemed to be almost inviting me to crash into it.
"I didn't think much of it at the time but when things got even worse I realised that I was quite deeply depressed and I was, and I probably still do have every night of my life, nightmares about work."
"I don't in any way think that my work has been in of the same stress level as being a policeman or a soldier but I think we do in our job... we do see a lot of things that the average member of the public wouldn't see or understand."
He hopes having a specialist service for people on the front lines will help people access help earlier.
"I just hope that the government understands, both state and federal, that this is a huge opportunity to try something different, that is integrated, that will address all issues of welfare," Dr Wirth said.
"It is really looking at and trying to address every issue that can come to the fore for a person who is struggling and maybe parts of their life is starting to disintegrate.
"I do urge the politicians to fully understand what we are proposing and include first responders."
Current status of the study
A Tasmanian government spokesperson said they recognised there was interest in having first responders included in any potential wellbeing centre.
"The Tasmanian government is partnering with the Australian government on a $120,000 feasibility study to look at integrated support services, such as a Tasmanian wellbeing centre, for veterans and their families," the spokesperson said.
"We understand there is some interest in considering civilian first responders in a wellbeing centre model.
"Recognising there may be some similarities between veterans and civilian first responders, interested stakeholders are encouraged to engage in the study which is expected to commence in the near future."
When asked if he would like to see emergency service personnel included in the study, Police, Fire and Emergency Services Minister Mark Shelton said he would keep a close eye on the work being done by both the state and federal government in regards to the wellbeing centre.
"From a first responders point of view we have within the department a process for dealing with issues that come out of PTSD and so forth," he said.
If you or someone you know is in need of crisis support, phone Lifeline 13 11 14.
Help is also available through Open Arms, a veteran support service, on 1800 011 046 and Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.
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