Military Voice Blog

    Welcome to the Military Voice Blog

    A Son's Fight Becomes a Mother's Battle

    Military Shop
    Posted by Military Shop on Mar 25, 2016 12:19:41 AM

    A desperate bid to help her own son battle the physiological impacts of two tours in Afghanistan inspired one mother to dedicate her life to working with and for those who suffer physical and emotional wounds in the service of our country.

    Meredith Lane remembers well the day in 2007 her 19 year old son told her he was deploying to Afghanistan for the first time. He was excited and eager to get going. She was terrified by the prospect.

    Her ex-army husband tried to reassure her that Mitchell's excitement was just like that of an elite athlete getting to put all of his training into action; "…you train day in day out, but sometimes all you get to do is sit on the bench… When you join the services you join and train to do a job," he told her. She still didn't get it. She just cried.

    At the time Meredith's concern was that Mitchell could be killed or physically wounded. She, like most, didn't consider the non-physical risks her son would face, and even when he returned her relief that he was alive and "unharmed" blinded her to the symptoms of suffering Mitchell endured within.

    "Many things happened on that first deployment, none of which he shared with his mother on those rare phone calls." She said. "But I was always so relieved when I heard his voice. When he came home after six months he looked tired. When he slept he didn't really sleep. But he seemed OK on the surface to me. I think that was how he liked it and no one had told me about PTSD. It wasn't even on my radar."

    But when Mitchell returned from his second tour the signs that something was wrong grew.

    "When he returned from the second deployment in one piece I was so relieved. He had twice tempted fate and he'd come home. He hadn't been killed or severely wounded by an IED or shot. It was over. Life was back to normal. How wrong I was," she said.

    "I live in Canberra and Mitchell lives in Townsville. In the days, weeks and months after he came home I would ring and he'd say he was fine, but the conversations became short, the content non-existent and his partner at the times kept saying something is really wrong. Mitchell didn't sleep. He had nightmares, depression, anger outbursts. He had panic attacks and he wouldn't talk to anyone. This is where our battle began."

    Meredith said the following year was "hell". Mitchell wouldn't get help. He wouldn't admit there was a problem but he didn't eat, couldn't sleep, and stopped talking to almost everyone. He pushed everyone away from him. It was then she says that Mitchell started having suicidal thoughts.

    "As a parent there is nothing worse than not being able to make your child better, no matter how old they are. I have never been so frightened or helpless in my life. It was slowly over the next two years I learnt of the things Mitchell had seen and been involved in during his deployment. It was something you just cannot appreciate from our safe little homes in suburban Australia. I sat back and said no wonder he is at the place he is."

    In her ongoing quest to help Mitchell Meredith became involved with Soldier On in 2012. The then new charity created by a young Army officer and Air Force officer was just starting out and its single mission to help today's younger diggers deal with the realities of being wounded physically and emotionally by service was music to Meredith.

    Meredith volunteered with the charity for 2 years before she gave up a successful career in commercial radio and joined the team to help Mitchell and others like him. She is now part of a dedicated team creating and supporting major alliances between corporate Australia and programs to support our younger veterans. Her passion for her role and the programs Soldier On is delivering is such that an outsider could be forgiven for thinking every young veteran is in someway Meredith's own flesh and blood.

    "These people have served our country and now it is us who must serve them. I have a gorgeous 27 year old son whose life has been changed forever. The kind, sensitive and beautiful boy that went off to war doesn't exist any more. In his place is still my son, who I love more than anything, but whose pain is so visible almost every day it breaks my heart."

    Meredith is confident Mitchell's life will improve over time, as long as he gets the right support and encouragement and recognition from the broader community.

    "There are many things that we are doing to help these wonderful people. From helping them rebuild their self-esteem, working through the issues of depression and helping them reintegrate into the civilian life. But we can all do more to help those who have come away from service wounded. We must let them know that we, as individuals and as a nation, are proud of that service and are grateful for the courage and commitment it takes to serve in our military."

    The Australia in the Great War Diggers Tribute is a small but symbolic gesture to show those who serve, today and in years past, that we are proud of that service.

    If you want to know more about Soldier On, or need support, please visit You can also contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

    Topics: Soldier On

    Leave Comment


    Most Popular

    Post By Topic

    See all