It was 2013 when Donna Reggett noticed a need in the Ipswich community. Her husband’s struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) wasn’t uncommon, but it did produce an unlikely outcome.
“My husband served in Somalia, he was one of those who hid PTSD for so long and just soldiered on,” Mrs Reggett said.
“That’s just how it was at the time, but now the younger generation of veterans is more vocal and less willing to accept PTSD.
“They’re putting their hands up and they’re getting treatment.
“What I did see as a wife of someone living with PTSD was the lack of support for partners.
“People with PTSD have access to a suite of treatments and services but there was a real gap there for their partners and families.”
Guided by her “lived experiences” Mrs Reggett set about starting a registered charity, Operation PTSD Support, that has grown to include a base membership of more than 300 people.
The group does not receive any government funding and instead relies on online auctions and business donations to offer its services.
“We’re an online forum with members from across Australia and other parts of the world including the UK, Canada, US, Mexico and Thailand,” Mrs Reggett said.
“Ipswich is still very much the hub and we focus on social inclusion for partners and families of return service men and women and also first responders like police officers, paramedics and fire fighters.
“We do coffee mornings, theatre nights, dinners and respite retreats – all sorts of things that form friendships which in turn becomes a support group.
“This is one of the biggest defence areas in Australia – Ipswich is a defence city and we definitely need (Operation PTSD Support) here.”
Mrs Reggett said the group empowered people through knowledge, strength and understanding.
“The partners of people with PTSD often become isolated themselves so what we aim to do is encourage them to look after themselves,” she said.
“Our ideal situation is helping relationships and families stay together.
“We give people the support, ability and tools to do that and in that sense we’re also helping the person with PTSD because we’re supporting the entire situation.”