Training for Special Forces
I wanted to join the Special Forces Direct Recruiting Scheme. So I went and did all my interviews and was recommended. I enlisted with the Army in 2010, did my infantry training and finished my advanced infantry training. It was a short time after that when I broke my hip.
It turned out that I actually had a genetic hip condition before I joined the Army, which I didn’t realise. Until that point it had never affected me, but I had a large lump on my femur, so every time I lifted my leg up it tore and split my hip socket in half and, carrying a bit of weight or doing those sort of activities, compresses the joint a lot which didn't help. After a while, basic activities like walking were extremely painful and continued to tear my hip apart.
Is my career over before it began?
It was a pretty bad time. I went to 6RAR at Enogerra (6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment), where I did my rehab for a year and a half but unfortunately I ended up tearing my hip again. It was at that point I realised that it was probably not going to get well enough for me to carry weight without a full hip replacement. I’m only 35 years old so it’s not recommended to get a hip replacement for a few years due to my age. I discharged, did another year of rehab and ended up spending about a year at home after surgery.
After seeing a few different doctors I realised that my Army career, even though it was pretty short, was over. I was devastated. I had literally trained to get my body right for the infantry, even 2 or 3 years before I joined, and especially with the aim of joining a Special Forces unit.
I am now in a position where I have a permanent hip injury. I can no longer do anything physical, so all my jobs previously that I had to fall back on seemed worthless and unreachable. Before I joined the Army I ran my own Martial Arts company and before that I worked at a Boat Building company. I couldn’t do either anymore. Everything I had known my entire professional life or that I was qualified to do was now useless.
I felt the options were very limited. I had to think about what I could take away from the Army and see if I could build on that. Whether that was work in the security field or doing a tech job, the biggest thing was I had to get educated in another field. I’m 35 years old and had no idea what I wanted to do or physically could do.
What am I entitled to?
I needed a way to pay my house off while I was getting out of the Army, on top of that my wife was also pregnant at the time with our first child. Essentially I did the research myself and found out what I was entitled to, from my compensation entitlements through being medically discharged. DVA was able to cover my medical expenses which was a relief. Then I realised that DVA was able to help find me work in a role that I wanted. By doing that research I was able to get rid of some of those fears of moving forward.
Private Investigator in Queensland
I work currently as a Private Investigator in Queensland. I was lucky enough to get a trial with a company and they liked me that much I was hired fulltime. I have a rare position as most private investigators are sub-contracted to private companies and get jobs here and there depending on what geographical location they are in. However I am lucky enough were I am in a position where I can go out and do my own investigations for the company and also I work in a management position.
I had already done my infantry training, therefore I automatically have a Certificate III in Security, and so I applied to do my Certificate III in Investigations. I now have a Certificate IV in Government Investigations as well to improve my knowledge which helps me being able to work for a wider variety of clientele. Obviously, like with any job, most employers may require you to obtain further education, so I went and did that to improve my chances of employment. I still wasn’t sure exactly where I wanted to go with it, but I was just fortunate that I found the right company to employ me.
DVA Employer Incentive Scheme
It did give me a foot in the door with my current job. I researched the program and understood how much my employer would get and how the scheme was run. I think initially it was an incentive for them hiring me. I got my placement through my service provider, but from there it was up to me to work hard in order to stay there. They gave me a chance and, as you do when you get a chance, you work hard and do the best you can.
Focused on the future
My hip injury has had a pretty big impact because I can’t do a lot of physical things or even recreational activities like I used to which is very frustrating. If I do have to do surveillance on foot, I have to prioritise my other work because I know that there is a good chance it will knock me about. You never know what you are going to be doing each day…but that’s one of the major reasons I love the job.
Coming out of the Army you can lose touch with a lot of your mates who gave you support in the Army. I still talk to quite a few of them but, you know, I also lost touch with a few as well. Of course my wife is my biggest help. I had a daughter just as I got out of the Army and that helped me to focus on my future.
Talk to DVA
Get lots of information. Talk to DVA, don’t be afraid to call them, research on the internet, ask plenty of questions whether that’s to DVA or to your rehab provider. I think sometimes when you get out of Defence, there is so much unknown. It can be a hard and frustrating time. I think if you can try to be positive it really does help a lot. You can either sit in a hole or try to move forward and deal with the cards you have been dealt so to speak.