48-year-old Jason was in the Australian Navy for ten years, joining the service when he was 15. Jason states that when he joined the Royal Australian Navy, it was during a time when bullying and assault were part of the culture which Jason says he experienced.
Betrayal has been a big theme in Jason’s life. He experienced physical and mental abuse growing up and witnessed many deaths during six assignments to the Persian Gulf.
Jason says the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) he experiences is due to an underpinning war-like cultural trauma he experienced during his career and childhood trauma.
He is currently on a disability pension and has been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and PTSD.
Before completing The Buttery’s inaugural Veterans COPE Recovery Program (VCRP) in February 2022, Jason drank up to a bottle and a half of scotch daily. At the time, he was experiencing family issues and broken relationships and was desperate to find a program to assist him.
Since completing the program, Jason says it has lifted a weight off him.
“I feel like a big burden has been lifted from me. I’ve been able to talk about a lot of things and will continue using Harry, the psychologist from the program.
Reimagining the trauma helped break it down and left me feeling lighter and unburdened from a lot of hate. There’s a lot of work to do, and I’ll need to continue doing it. Although now I feel like I’ve got a framework to deal with, which is excellent.”
The VCRP helped Jason acknowledge his disorders, which he was previously scared to do.
“I was kind of in denial before. The program helped me to face the truth. It isn’t easy because you go through a lot of shame and guilt, but you also learn that what’s happened is in the past. If you keep punishing yourself, you’ll keep harming yourself with abusive behaviour and substance abuse. You learn how to counteract negative thoughts by having early warning signs and a damage control plan for when you get triggered. Instead, I know to go for a walk, listen to music, take deep breaths, or be by myself. The program has helped me to learn these practices.”
Jason is particularly grateful for the rural and private setting that the program is facilitated in.
“The location is healing – it’s like an oasis in the middle of a volcano – I had some epiphanies while being isolated in a beautiful setting. I spent a lot of time sitting outside in nature and surrendering to the process around re-imaginative theory. I took some beautiful photos of sunrises and sunsets and spent a lot of time crying but also being happy about the journey.”
“The other thing the program did is it made me fall in love with myself again. I hated myself. I was remorseful about the broken relationships and things I’ve done when substance using. Since completing the program, I’ve had some wake-up calls and put everything into perspective.”
*Name changed for privacy. Photo is for illustrative purposes only.