WHAT TAKES A YOUNG MAN, IN THE PRIME OF HIS LIFE, FROM THIS…
in only 3 YEARS, 1 MONTH & 7 DAYS, without ever having been deployed to carry out his duty (and passion) as a highly skilled Combat Medic in the Australian Army?
Let me introduce you to the youngest of my 4 children – Alex Thomas, who joined the Australian Army on 1st August 2011 at the age of 20. We tearfully saw him off on the bus to Kapooka where he would endure about 100 days of fairly “hard core” basic training. To be honest, we didn’t think he (or we) would make it through, but he was a tough little bugger and on 31st October 2011, we proudly watched him “March Out” as a fully fledged Australian Soldier!
He was transferred to Albury (on the border of NSW & Vic) to undergo training as a Medic. This was what he wanted to do most in life – what he was born to do…to help people who were sick or injured – and do his bit for his country!
In May 2013, after a lot of heavy and fast tracked medical training, Private Thomas (Alex) was posted to a medical corp in Brisbane, Queensland for the next 3 years where he could start his career as fully qualified Medic! When he found out where he was being posted to, he called home to let us know. The CSM at this unit had a reputation that preceded him and was quite well known for being a “hard ass” (I’m being polite here). He had quite a habit of singling people out that he didn’t like or he didn’t think “good enough”and giving them a hard time for no real reason. Alex had been given the heads up to “fly under the radar” as much as possible for the next 18 months to 2 years, until this guy’s posting had ended and he was transferred elsewhere.
So off he went to Brisbane! He was living on base initially which he wasn’t fond of. Living in a tiny little motel style room in an old dilapidated building with no real kitchen facilities, so every meal had to be at the “Mess Hall” which was about a 15 minute walk from his room, a shared bathroom with 4 other people. Not withstanding these initial teething problems, he loved his work, made some close friends in the Unit and made the best of it.
The months passed fairly quickly, and as 2014 rolled in Alex moved off base into a “real house” with a couple of friends from work. Before long though it became clear that he was having some “issues” at work – and had done for several months!
I’m not going to pussyfoot around or try to be politically correct here – the plain FACT of the matter is that he had fallen victim to the CSM (a Narcissistic Bully) who, with the help of a couple of other higher ranking members of the unit (who should have known better) had for many months been gradually chipping away at my son. He became increasingly more reclusive, wouldn’t take our phone calls, was stressed and depressed when we did speak to him, was experiencing chronic insomnia, major health issues, anxiety and panic attacks, and had lost his appetite almost completely. He was permanently exhausted and unable to focus on anything.
The situation got way out of control in July 2014 when I had to make an emergency trip to Brisbane to “sort some things out” – but sadly the downward spiral had already begun and was only gaining momentum.
On 8th September 2014, there was a knock on the door! An Army Chaplain and two Officers were standing there saying, “Mrs Thomas? We are sorry to inform you that your son, Alex has passed away!”
Alex was found dead in his bed at home in Brisbane by his housemate at the age of 23.
** There is SO much more to this story, but due to an internal Defence Force investigation into the circumstances leading up to Alex’s death, there are some parts that I cannot share…. YET!!! **