In the light of Men’s Health Week and following the announcement of Medibank’s sponsorship of the 2018 Invictus Games in Sydney, former ADF members, and current Medibank employees Peter Solomon and Ben Walker have spoken about why the Invictus Games are special.
“What you’ll see come through these games, and I’m probably a little bit biased, is something special you won’t see at the Olympic Games or the Commonwealth Games,” said Peter, who served in the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps for 23 years prior to joining Medibank last year.
“There was a competitor at the last Invictus Games in Orlando, US Sergeant Elizabeth Marks. She won a gold medal in the swimming, and Prince Harry was presenting her with the medal and she took it off and gave it back to him and said ‘don’t give it to me, give it to my doctors, surgeons, the people who got me to here to where I am today’. That sort of stuff – to be exposed to that, is special.”
Ben Walker, who served for five years in the Royal Australian Air Force in IT and communications roles, spoke about how important the Invictus Games is for those who have served.
“It shows people who’ve been injured – physically or mentally – that they still have an opportunity to contribute. It taps into one of the core beliefs of defence people, which is competitiveness – and it gives them that role to compete and be recognised.”
Alistair Marshall, Head of Internal Communications at Medibank, had the pleasure of speaking with Peter Solomon and Ben Walker.
Ben also spoke about his own struggles with post-traumatic stress as a result of serving in the Air Force.
“I was posted to Darwin when the Bali bombing happened. And I was part of the team – Operation Bali Assist – that helped repatriate and triage the injured Australians and people from other nationalities who came back from Bali. As a consequence to this day I still suffer from post-traumatic stress. It’s been a 15 year battle for me,” he said.
Peter spoke about the injuries many of his friends have suffered through their service.
“I can talk on behalf of many of my friends who’ve been involved in multiple deployments over a long period of time. Many friends who are suffering from PTS – the mental injuries – and also the physical injuries.
“A friend of mine McQuilty (Coco) Quirke is lucky to be here – he was involved in an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) incident in Afghanistan and sustained life-threatening injuries. It’s been a long road to recovery for Coco, but he’s nearly out the other side. If it wasn’t for defence being there for support – mental health, physical health – it would have been so much more difficult for him. It would also be remiss of me not to also mention the love and support of his family and friends.”
“Unfortunately at the other end – I was talking to my wife about this the other day – we’ve had colleagues and friends, getting close to two hands full, who haven’t coped so well who are no longer with us now.”
For Peter and Ben, the Invictus Games present a unique opportunity for Medibank to bring our purpose to life and help improve the health and well-being of armed services personnel who have been wounded or injured.
“It really demonstrates to serving men and women we are completely dedicated to what they do.
“It will be wonderful for Medibank, and will it give our people the chance to see the perspectives and some of the trials and tribulations, and just the attitudes of serving men and women – they have a determination that’s really like no other,” said Ben.
Click to read more about Medibank’s Garrison Health Services and view all current opportunities.