WHEN I was in Vietnam I thought I was most fortunate at the time. I was a medic in a field ambulance and I have an aversion to working in hospitals of all things.

I had the opportunity to train and work with American air ambulance so I got on the helicopter and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Out of my 12-month tour I spent probably eight months flying.

At 21 you're 10-foot tall and bulletproof and when I think about it now there were some very traumatic events that one was exposed to.

Towards the end of my time in the Army I started to suffer from depression and anxiety.

At the time PTSD was not as well-known as it is and I sought some help for it but again it was hard to put a finger on it.

Then being in the ambulance service and again being exposed to everything from traumatic events to aggression and combative behaviour I think that brought it more to the fore. That was the catalyst for the ultimate diagnosis.

I was diagnosed with it about six years ago. I suspected there was something significantly wrong because I was angry, argumentative, very difficult to live with but I was very lucky that my wife has stuck by me the whole way and at times it's been extremely difficult for her and my kids.

Animals are the greatest therapy. I've always had a good relationship with them. I've always had dogs around. They're very perceptive and horses are also.

I can go up to my fellow and just hang on his neck and snuggle into him like a big sook - I make sure no-one's looking - and he just stands there. They know. They can pick up on a whole range of things.

Until I relaxed in the saddle he'd play up. If you respect the beast it's going to respect you, it's going to give you loyalty and if you are confident about your ability, they're going to pick up on it. There is a bond there and that's established and nurtured by trust, respect and understanding their body language.

Vietnam Veteran Geoff Dunning has found help for his PTSD at Redgum Walers Equine Learning Centre. Pictured with horse Gunner. Photo: David Nielsen / The Queensland Times
Vietnam Veteran Geoff Dunning has found help for his PTSD at Redgum Walers Equine Learning Centre. Pictured with horse Gunner. Photo: David Nielsen / The Queensland Times David Nielsen

 



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