Damien Thomlinson's experience has helped change care approaches
Afghanistan war veteran Damien Thomlinson is grateful the National Centre for Veterans’ Healthcare, because it offers streamlined access to services for contemporary veterans who have served in active and peacekeeping missions.
Damien was 24 when he became an elite Commando in the Australian Defence Force.
He was on night patrol with the 2nd Commando regiment in Afghanistan in 2009 when his unit drove over an improvised bomb.
He lost parts of both his arms and legs as a result of the explosion.
“My right arm was wrecked pretty badly. So was my left. My right leg was taken off above the knee. My left [leg] below the knee. I had a closed head injury and a few other things,” he said.
When he returned to Australia for treatment, Damien was frustrated about the lack of coordinated rehabilitation services for seriously injured veterans.
“The rehab was extensive. It was a long process that I had to go through when I got back to Australia.
“Nothing is ever a perfect system.
“But I know with my [situation] the left hand wasn’t talking to the right hand... having to find services... find different products and find different things and you think the entire time ‘How easy it would be if everything was in one spot’,” he said.
Damien is thankful that his own experience may, in a small way, have contributed to a change in approach and that contemporary veterans, who’ve served in locations including Rwanda, East Timor, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Solomon Islands, will benefit.
“To find out that there’s a hospital like Concord that’s putting all those services in the one spot making that system easier is so re-assuring to me for the future.
“I hope you can understand how much it means to me to have a centralised service, centralised skills in the one spot,” he said.