Navy personnel Soldier On for mental health

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Jessica Craig (author), ACW Emma Schwenke (photographer), AC Stewart Gould (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Kuttabul, NSW

Topic(s): HMAS Kuttabul, Health, Fitness and Wellbeing, Soldier On, Mental Health

Teammates cheer each other on while competing on the ski trainer during the mental health marathon for Soldier On, at HMAS Kuttabul, Sydney. (photo: ACW Emma Schwenke)
Teammates cheer each other on while competing on the ski trainer during the mental health marathon for Soldier On, at HMAS Kuttabul, Sydney.

The end of mental health awareness month was marked at HMAS Kuttabul gymnasium with a marathon to raise money for Soldier On.

Twenty teams of three skied or rowed 42,195 metres in a physical battle of endurance, which raised $3535 for the charity that provides health and wellbeing services for Defence personnel and their families.

Chaplain Jon-Paul Barry, who orchestrated the event in conjunction with Physical Training Instructor Leading Seaman Jessica Fisher, said he was blown away by the support the teams showed to each other and the atmosphere on the day.

“The thing that stood out for me on the day was the camaraderie and peer support for every team,” Chaplain Barry said.

“Not a single person left until all teams had finished and every team was cheered on to the end.

“The turn out and atmosphere really emphasised how important mental health awareness is and how events like this not only enable us to raise money for meaningful causes, but also come together and support each other.”

Winning teams secured adrenaline rushes, vouchers and a feed at the barbeque cooked up by the Senior Chaplain and Command Warrant Officer.

NUSHIP Supply, Gap Years and Amphibious Task Group took out first, second and third places, while HMAS Canberra were the fastest 2km skiers and the Gap Years the fastest 2km rowers.

Seaman Max Betts from winning team NUSHIP Supply said his team had not trained to tackle the marathon, but were immediately keen to support once they were told about it.

“Once we heard the marathon was for mental health awareness we were eager to sign up even though we were not prepared. Our sole purpose was to have fun and help raise awareness and money for the cause,” Seaman Betts said.

“When we won we were relieved that it was all over, our legs and lungs were crying out in pain but you couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces.

“We celebrated afterwards by having a barbeque with everyone else that participated followed by the best sleep ever that night!”

For those seeking mental health support, the ADF Health and Wellbeing Portal ‘Fighting Fit’ is a resource available to all current and ex-serving ADF Members and their families.