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Kellie Dadds

Kellie deployed multiple times over her 22-year Army career. Her service includes the Solomon Islands, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and with the United Nations in Palestine and Israel. As an Intelligence Officer, she was privy to some horrific events.

Kellie believes her Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is linked not only to the traumatic events she witnessed, but other less well-considered risk factors. These include; disturbed sleep patterns, from working 20 hour days for months that confuse long-term memory, and diet including eating ration packs full of preservatives for up to 3 months.

When I came home from all my deployments I felt weird. You’ve come from a place where you see everything as a threat and it is difficult to try and switch that off. You’re on edge, you struggle to talk about your experiences and I deliberately choose not to discuss it with family because it’s my burden to carry.

Asked if she perceived any changes to her community in Australia after her service, Kellie replied

… the world is not a safe place for me. I suffer from anxiety. I don’t get out much. If I do, … I go to safe places like the RSL, or I come here to the museum where I can relate to people and feel comfortable and safe.

She knows her condition has affected her family and worries particularly about the effect on her children.

all of a sudden…a trolley blocked the aisle, so I couldn’t get out. And I just had a massive panic attack. And I sat on the ground. I hugged my son and just started crying. And he said, “Mum, it’s okay. I understand that you’re having a hard time.” And he just sat there with me until I could get up and get home.

Kellie values the time Legacy spends with her children. This exposes them to positive experiences connected with her service. She also shares quality time with her parents through participation in the Bendigo RSL Shed program for veterans and affiliates.

…so now there is just a level of connectedness from service, probably the first connectedness that we’ve ever really experienced from service... I feel as though it’s really helping them as well.

Snow workout in Tarin Kowt, 2012
photographer unknown

Not even snow would stop Kellie’s morning routine. Throughout her 22-year career, exercise helped Kellie’s to stay grounded and maintain her mental wellbeing. While on deployment in Iraq, Kellie got up every morning and went for a run, earning the nickname Forrest (after Forrest Gump) among her peers.