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Fortem Talks – Afghanistan through the eyes on a Federal Police veteran

Grant Edwards is worried about his friends in Afghanistan. He remains in contact with the people he worked with, especially so this week as the country crumbles following the withdrawal of coalition troops and the Taliban takeover.

“I’ve felt a sinking feeling in my stomach,” Grant says.

“I still have friends over there, I still have a couple of interpreters that worked for me, I was trying to help them get out, unfortunately two of them can’t and that weighs on me.”

Grant retired from the Australian Federal Police (AFP) after 34 years of dedicated service.

His career has spanned local, national and international policing, including a deployment to Afghanistan as Mission Commander and Deputy Head of the International Police Coordination Board.

While the perspective and reaction of Australian Defence Force (ADF) veterans has rightly been canvased in recent days, Fortem Australia boss, John Bale is keen to make sure other voices are heard.

“Trying to make sense of all this is really hard,” John says.

“We need to recognise the great job that all the people Australia sent have done in trying circumstances and also the impact that this is having on them right now.”

John is also a veteran of Afghanistan, deployed with the Australian Army in 2008 and 2010.

While disappointed and critical of how the withdrawal of troops has been managed, both man are concerned about the mental health implications that come with some of the commentary and reporting of recent events.

Grant and John fear that suggesting Afghanistan was a “failed mission” or that the 41 Australian’s who lost their lives “died in vain” will be detrimental to many veterans from all the agencies who served.

“That can be a really significant injury to an entire generation, its a moral injury,” John believes.

“As much as we may have failed as a collective, as an Allies, NATO, and U.S lead mission, I don’t think we can say that from an individual perspective, what we did we did well.

“But those collective comments that this is a failure and did nothing still cut deep and can create long term impacts.”

Click play to join the conversation with Grant and John…

For support:

Beyond Blue – 24 hours, 7days, phone 1300 224 636

Lifeline – 24 hours, 7 days, phone 13 11 14

Open Arms – 24 hours, 7 days, phone 1800 011 046

Fortem Australia – we provide ongoing mental health and wellbeing support for first responders and their families. Reach out via connect@fortemaustralia.org.au or phone 1300 33 95 94. Explore our services HERE.

Soldier On – is a ADF veteran support organisation delivering a range of services to serving and ex-serving veterans and their families. Connect via info@soldieron.org.au or phone 1300 620 380. Explore their services HERE.

Fortem activities, events and community engagements are designed to support the mental fitness of our first responder families. Read more about Our Approach.
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