On 6/9/2016 my baby brother, Ben Chapman (Chappy), a long serving RAAF member died by suicide. He was 38 years old. He battled with PTSD and depression. Ben had been on 2 deployments to the Middle East in 2009 and 2013/14.
I have always been proud of my brothers service and to acknowledge that Ben and I would spend ANZAC Day together as often as we could. I truly respect and admire his commitment to serve our country. It was important to him. He was a proud ADF member and and he will always be my hero.
We had at times casually chatted about doing the Kokoda Track together, but nothing ever eventuated out of those 'one day' conversations. So now, I am committing to doing it for us, in honour of him. I am taking part in one of the ANZAC Day 2017 treks (19/4/2017 to 30/4/2017). This will be a physical, mental and emotional challenge for me, but hopefully will provide some reward in completing the trek and raising some funds for Soldier On to support other veterans such as Ben.
I'm doing it to feel close to him and as a chance to heal and to pay my respects to those that have paid the ultimate price for us all. I'm am truly grateful to all that have served our country. I'm doing it to also help others who may suffer the same as he has by raising awareness of the help that is needed and available for our veterans and their families through Soldier On.
Our family has been devastated to say the least, by the impact that suicide has. I'm hoping that I can help contribute in some way to raise awareness, help end the stigma and to save other families from facing the overwhelming pain that we continue to face.
Ben wasn't just my brother, he was my mate. I miss him so much - there is a huge hole in my life that will always be his. I don't know what my new 'normal' without him is yet and the tears do not end.
Ben leaves behind his daughter Charlotte who is 2 years old. I look at her and I see Ben, my heart breaks for her and is another reason why I want to help raise awareness so that children don't grow up without parents due to the mental health issues that impact our veterans.
When it gets tough on the Kokoda Track, which there is no doubt it will, Ben and Charlotte will drive me to keep going one step at a time.
The current statistic of 8 suicides per day in Australia is simply too many. We need to help people. We need to end the stigma. We especially need to help our service people.
Endurance. Courage. Sacrifice. Mateship.
I am very grateful for the support and any donation that you are able to contribute.
This is for you Benny. I will love you forever.
RIP brother. Peace out!
Lest we forget.