Jason Johnson, Australian Army veteran
Jason Johnson served in the Australian Army from 2001 to 2014. He was an infantryman serving mostly with the 5th Battalion and the 5th/7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment in the Top End. He was deployed to East Timor 2002, Iraq in 2005 and 2007 and Afghanistan in 2010.
‘I joined when I was 19 years old and trying to work out what I wanted to do in the world. I saw the military as a great option for providing service to the nation and something a lot bigger than myself as an individual,’ he says.
‘A big highlight was my deployment to Afghanistan working in a patrol base and working very closely with the Afghan National Army and helping those guys to form their teams and learn from a world-class army on how to conduct operations to provide security and protection within their own valleys and regions. I found that an absolutely fascinating experience and learnt a lot from those gentlemen.’
Mr Johnson decided to leave the Army for family reasons.
‘I’d reached a point where I was at a crossroads – where it was a challenge balancing what was required of me from Army and what was required of me as a father and a husband.’
He found the transition to civilian life challenging.
‘It’s like you’ve left a family that you’ve always known,’ he says. ‘You feel a little lost. Trying to work out what you’re going to do and what gives you a sense of purpose.’
Mr Johnson says he was very fortunate to move straight into a good job, and found his time in the Army prepared him well for it.
‘It was the mining industry and I was given quite a lot of responsibility very quickly. But rather than allowing myself to become overwhelmed with it all, I just approached what I needed to do in the same way I would approach tackling something that was presented to me in the military – seeking out people that knew a lot more than me and learning from them very quickly,’ he says.
When people thank him for his service, he sometimes finds it disconcerting. But he often thanks other people who have served and welcomes the fact that more and more people are expressing their gratitude. He is proud of having served.
‘It means on a personal level I feel that I’ve done what I could do to support this wonderful nation.’