Tell us a bit about yourself:
My name is Matt and I’m a 40-year-old family man, married with two kids. We live in Geelong, Victoria.
What are you up to these days (work, study)?
After leaving full-time military service, I picked up work in Victoria working as a helicopter winch operator and medical assistant on the States air ambulance helicopters. I did that job for about 4 years before moving into more of a WHS consulting role, which is where I remain working today. Strangely enough however, I still don't feel I am where I’d like to be in life.
Being introduced to Matt from the Australian Student Veterans Association (ASVA) has been a game changer, with his help I am now heading to university in 2020 to study a Bachelor of Paramedicine.
What's your background (military service, deployment experience if any, career highlights)?
I joined the Australian Defence Force (ADF) in 1998 at the age of nineteen. Initially I worked as a regular soldier, then team leader and supervisor, before transferring to aviation where I worked on Blackhawk helicopters as a gunner and winch operator. Both roles were incredibly rewarding, albeit in very different ways.
Through this service I was lucky enough to have deployed overseas on operational tours 4 times, as well as being privileged enough to travel to Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, the UK, the USA, and parts of Australia many people only see in books or on TV.
As a veteran have you faced any personal or professional challenges since transitioning from the ADF?
When I left the ADF I transitioned directly to the emergency services sector, which is full of ex-Defence personnel and very like-minded individuals. As idyllic as this sounds, it actually kept me institutionalised without me realising it. When I eventually transitioned away from this working environment into consulting I struggled; not with the work but with the lack of structure, transparency and accountability from the people I worked with or for.
This realisation led me to the conclusion that I wanted to move back to emergency services, this time however as a fully qualified paramedic. This meant university, but I had no idea how to best move forward. Thankfully ASVA was able to assist in guiding me through the process of successfully applying for the bachelor’s degree I needed.
More than just guidance, ASVA actively advocated for me directly to the university, bridging the gap between the university's civilian context and my military skills and experience. ASVA also facilitated a grant to assist with some of the costs associated with studying full-time.
What do you wish the general public were more aware of about Veterans?
That Veterans are a unique resource, generally under-utilised or under employed within the civil sector; most likely because there is too little understanding of how military skills (behavioural rather than academic) can be applied/transitioned into civilian roles.