HMAS Stirling Health Centre’s Leading Seaman Medic Karney Armstrong joined the Navy as an Electronic Warfare Linguist before transferring to the medical branch. She is proud that Royal Australian Navy medics are ‘first to respond, last to seek help’ and maintain their calm in the worst situations.
“Being a medic means we are exposed to other people's suffering and sadness while they battle through their injuries,” she said.
“In my career, there have been many happy and successful stories but there have also been some sad ones. Over the years, these stories get to you.
“Unfortunately, some people you are unable to save and to any health professional, this is the hardest pill to swallow.”
Leading Seaman Armstrong was recently presented with an idea to help her cope with the stresses of her job when she saw a Stirling patient representing Australia at the Invictus Games Opening Ceremony in Toronto.
“I submitted my Expression of Interest for the 2018 Invictus Games in Sydney and selected swimming as my sport.
“Training for the Invictus Games isn't easy for me - not many people speak out about their mental struggles because they may feel embarrassed or feel others may not be able to relate.
“I experience these thoughts every training session, and that’s why I feel it's important to blog my journey, so others who may experience the same negative self-talk are able to relate and know it is okay to talk out about it.”
Sitting on Nowra Hill as a teenager, watching the helicopters hovering around HMAS Albatross was just another driving force for the third-generation Defence member eager to join the Royal Australian Navy.
“My motivation for joining the Navy in 2007 was to make something of myself, to help people and make a difference in their lives,” Leading Seaman Armstrong said.
“Before I went to medical school at HMAS Cerberus, I didn't even know how to bandage someone's leg, let alone save their life.
“The skills I’ve now acquired have saved lives, including a shark-attack victim in Stirling in 2010.
“I am proud that I have been taught leadership skills that enabled me to be an approachable and caring medic and leading hand.
“Being awarded Dux of my Leading Seaman Promotion Course reinforced how important it is as leaders to care about our people. I have brought that duty of care into my daily job as a medic.”
Leading Seaman Armstrong says her aspiration is to help educate and encourage others to support the Invictus Games and make people aware about the importance of supporting injured members of the Australian Defence Force.