Fucking Transition

Hey guys

I thank the universe that I found the podcast that you dudes put out. I’ve been through four Psych’s since I got out, I’ve gelled with none of them. I went from being at the peak of my game, as a Corporal in the Australian Special Air Service Regiment, to not being able to afford diesel for my truck. I don’t always regret getting out, as, after the usual divorce, I now see my son week on week off and this means the world to me.
I think I got blindsided by civvie street because I’m not sure how I’ve ended up in the position I find myself in. I had the motivation and mindset to get through selection for the SAS, even after spraining my ankle with one week to go. A Delta dude on exchange who was manning one of the selection stands had a piece of cardboard taped to a tree with ‘the man in the arena’ spiel written on it, ‘It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.’ That kept me going to the point I had to have my boot cut off after I was selected. Wanting something bad enough was enough to override the pain I felt every morning until the task at hand occupied my mind.
My first deployment to crapghanistan in 2006, we found ourselves compromised on the way to a target. Our three patrols and HQ element equaling 20 men, ended up in a compound being surrounded by bad dudes that were coming from villages all around our location. We managed to hold out until day break, pushing a tractor and some cows into the exposed areas to soak up inc9ming fire, when we got two A10s to do gun runs on the other side of the compound walls. The impact of the rounds was throwing dirt the size of bricks over the wall onto our heads, fucking awesome! The two pilots were chicks and the JTAC asked if they were wearing underwear. I don’t think they took offence as they hung around for some low passes as we carried out our battle damage assessment that day. The point is, what kept us going when we thought we had run out of luck was going out together in style, and the light at the end of the tunnel of air being on station within around 30mins.
Around 2007 during the coup in Fiji, some mates and I were involved in a Blackhawk crash where the helo hit the ship at full speed braking the tail rotor off and sending us spinning into the ocean, where the helo sunk like a stone. This meant that the depth we managed to fight our way out of the wreckage rendered our emergency breathing apparatus (EBAs) useless. Even though at the time the accident was happening I didn’t want it to be, I was able to think clearly and logically to prepare myself for entering the water. However, the water hit me like a tidal wave in the open door and things went black immediately, my head was stuck against something and I couldn’t feel the side of the door with my hands, just fast rope everywhere. I knew I needed to breathe so went for my EBA, when I did this I think I was pushed out of the helo by the water flow, I looked around and could see a shimmer of light some distance away and told myself to swim like I had never swam before. When I broke the surface I don’t even remember sucking in air, I was pretty shocked! I think the natural will to live got me through that one! Needless to say that proper recovery took a back seat to getting back to the Squadron and back to work!
Now in a different Squadron, back in crapghanistan 2009, one of our jobs was to help out some dudes who decided they had had enough of these thugs setting up check points and harassing, raping and killing the locals, they were pinned down and were requesting assistance. The Brits and the American units weren’t allowed to go for reasons unknown to me. We had just come back from a job and were told this would only take a few days, we went. Three months later we had liberated the city of Gizab. During our stay there, I managed to cheat death on several occasions. One of those was when an RPG round rushed past my head like someone had thrown a grid iron football in slow motion. Another that comes to mind is when we entered the dark shade of an orchard after being in the bright summer sun, in extended line, when some young guy let’s rip with a burst from his AK, tik, tik, tik, we all laid into him and looked at each other, not one of us had been hit!
Back out there in 2010, we were lucky enough to be in the biggest Australian contact since Viet Nam, now known as the battle of Tizak. We were taking fire as soon as we landed in the blackhawks provided by US airframes, Wolfpack, thanks guys! You did an amazing job and were quick and fearless at adapting to SF protocols. We were pinned down in a large dry river bed waiting for some Apaches to do some gun runs and take out the guys in the mountainside, when my mate next to me said he had been hit, I checked it out and it was a clean wound, like someone had taken a pencil and punched it through just under his elbow. I was about to patch it up when he says that he doesn’t think we should hang around here, I agreed. Whilst patching it up, his only thoughts were of not telling his partner about being shot so as not to worry her. She had already lost her previous partner in the chopper crash off of Fiji. We didn’t mind the new partnership as there was an unborn child at the time of the crash, and now the kid would be able to grow up knowing her dad with photos of him plastered all over the house. From the visit with Delta, I know the guys can be a bit funny about this situation. Anyways, the day went on with rounds splashing around feet and a pile of bodies to be searched stacked up like something out of 300 the movie! I saw and did some pretty surreal things that day, and we all came home alive.
My point is not to gloat, but to highlight the point of where do you go from there? No amount of adrenaline inducing activities and sports have managed to fill the void.
I’ve now been at university for three years and I am broke as fuck. I live in a rural area and have extremely minimal contact with the brothers I used to work with. My body is in pain and I find it hard to tap into the mindset I used to have, as though I’ve used it up like some finite resource.
I started Uni with the intention of helping other veterans during the transition to the civilian world, however the more I researched the more I found myself in a dark place doing whatever to get by.
It’s only since finding your podcasts and realising how many other similar people to myself have gone through the exact same thing that I realise I am not alone, and that really helps. I’ve reached out to some people and now have some job options on the horizon for some much needed cash.
I can’t thank you dudes enough for giving me some comfort and companionship.
Cheers, Toby