Adaptive sports have helped an Adelaide-based sailor overcome mental and physical adversity when she recently competed at the Warrior Games in the United States.
Leading Seaman Vanessa Broughill from the Joint Electronic Warfare Unit in Adelaide was a member of the 23-person-strong combined Australian Defence Force and Veteran Sport Australia team that represented Australia at the games in Tampa Bay, Florida, from 21-30 June.
The event, hosted by US Special Operations Command, involved around 300 wounded, injured and ill serving and former serving military members from six nations.
When she initially applied to participate in the Warrior Games, Leading Seaman Broughill had decided she was a point in her recovery where she needed to take the next step.
“Medication can only do so much – I needed something more,” she said.
“This was my second Warrior Games, having also competed in Colorado last year.
“This year I was able to embrace a mentoring role.
“Moving forward this has shown me exactly where I want to go from here. I want to continue to grow, and at the same time help others feel as good as I now do,” she said.
Leading Seaman Broughill competed in track, field, indoor rowing, swimming, powerlifting and cycling.
She said sport had the ability to bring people together and it was a powerful thing.
“I don’t think enough people realise just how effective physical activity is in the recovery and rehabilitation process.
“We always feel better when we get together and play a team sport.
“All those good endorphins get released, and that’s something you can’t put in a pill.
“To take that one step further with adaptive sports, you bring together a group of like-minded people, with similar backgrounds and it’s just amazing to see their progress – you couldn’t achieve those results in any other way,” she said.
Leading Seaman Broughill said support from Defence through adaptive sports programs made people better, both physically and mentally.
“Being released from work to compete here makes my recovery the best it can be,” she said.
“I think it’s really amazing and it proves how much Defence cares about its people, especially those with mental health barriers.”
Leading Seaman Broughill said Defence had done a lot in the last five to ten years in changing the way members look at mental health.
“It’s a lot more accepted now, which is great, and you do get the tools you need,” she said.
“There are courses now to help you deal with people who might have suicidal thoughts or people who have anxiety. There are courses on managing stress.
“This just shows that Defence is committed to ensure our people are the best they can be,” she said.
While the Defence Adaptive sports programs are not about the medals, Leading Seaman Broughill said she’s proud to have won gold in discus; three silver medals in powerlifting and the one-minute indoor row and four x 50m mixed swimming relay events; and three bronze medals in the four x 100 meter mixed relay track, four-minute row and 100m freestyle events.
The other Royal Australian Navy representatives were Able Seaman Marine Technician Mark Daniels and Able Seaman Maritime Logistics - Chef Matthew Brown, both from HMAS Stirling.