SERVICE STICKERS: Simon Payne designed and prints Thank You For Your Service stickers for returned soldiers.
SERVICE STICKERS: Simon Payne designed and prints Thank You For Your Service stickers for returned soldiers. Contributed

Men hide their mental injuries: Afghanistan veteran

WALKING away from life as he'd known for so long was no easy feat for Simon Payne.

Deployed to Afghanistan at 35, the Coast man counted himself one of the lucky ones.

"I thought I came out relatively unscathed but it did too affect me," he said.

"There were times I couldn't sleep; where the sound of a car door slamming would trigger something in me."

Later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, Mr Payne said he always felt on high alert.

Years on he has completed a course in design and has devoted his energy into doing his bit to help veterans know their service is appreciated through the creation of 'thank you' stickers.

And he said it were those sorts of conversations that helped reduce the stigma surrounding PTSD for returned soldiers.

"The training that leads up to deployment is very demanding," he said.

"They train you to go but not how to come home.

"When you're in defence your focus is to gain the goal of deployment.

"When you're aiming for that you don't want to seem broken or unfit.

"People hide their injuries just to reach that goal.

"Many young men have trouble coming back from that experience."

Mates4Mates, a national not-for-profit group, works to help veterans and their families make the transition from service. Focussed on supporting veterans wounded or injured in their service, they try to get veterans back to living a fulfilling life.

Mates4Mates chief executive officer Simon Sawyer said the organisation's services had expanded to the Coast with one husband-and- wife team offering fortnightly bonding sessions.

These sessions are focussed on social engagement in an effort to break down any barriers which may exist.

"The stereotypically tough Australian male may be reluctant to seek help," he said. "We need to get to the point where seeking help is as common as going to the doctor or dentist.

"PTSD is not always about the single significant event, it's also about many cumulative events building up.

"For treatment, it's a lot harder as they haven't got to deal with one issue, they have to unpack multiple."

For more information about Mates4Mates or to utilise their services, visit

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