Terry Clayton served in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) from 1987 to 1997. His primary role was maintaining and operating five-inch gun systems.
In 1991, Terry deployed overseas during the Gulf War aboard HMAS Brisbane. ‘I was part of a multinational force that threw a dictator out of a country he invaded,’ he says.
Terry found that his time in the Navy changed his perceptions of the world. ‘It expanded my life experiences and helped me relate to many different people from many different backgrounds,’ he says. ‘Having the ability to interact well with a diverse range of people really helped when I transitioned out of the Navy.’
After getting married, Terry discharged from the Australian Defence Force (ADF) believing that Navy life would be tough on a young family. However, he found transitioning into civilian life came with its own challenges. ‘It was really difficult trying to assimilate back into civilian life,’ he says. ‘I had pretty much joined the Navy straight out of school and gave them the best 10 years of my life. I really struggled to un-learn what I had been taught. Looking back I can see I probably was suffering from separation anxiety… but back then there wasn’t the help available like there is now.’
After leaving the ADF, Terry started in the hearing industry as a technical officer as his job in the Navy had a lot to do with electronics. He then moved into the clinical side of the industry and became a trained audiometrist.
Terry continues to serve others through his own business, Clayton Hearing, where he works as a hearing rehabilitation professional. ‘I test my patients’ hearing and develop a rehabilitation plan to suit them to help them with their communication needs,’ he says. ‘It gives me a big thrill to make a meaningful change to someone’s quality of life.’
He knows how important it is to support members of the ADF during their transition into civilian life and employs veterans in his business when possible. ‘I know they have a great work ethic… they can take instruction easily and understand the chain of command.’
Terry encourages veterans struggling with finding employment after discharging to never underestimate the lessons and skills they’ve learned while serving in the ADF. ‘Discover what you enjoy and put all your efforts into that, even if it isn’t going to be lucrative,’ he says. ‘There are many more important things in life than financial considerations. Most employers really value ex-service men and women and the skills they have. Take advantage of every opportunity that comes along and never stop learning. Don’t be afraid to take risks and don’t be afraid of failure; you learn more from your failures than you do from your successes.’
Thank you, Terry, for telling your story, and for all the hard work you continue to do in the community.