Home' Army News : October 25th 2012 Contents Mention you saw this flyer prior to completing
your initial contract and we'll give you a choice
of either a Free Portable GPS or a $300 Fuel
Voucher when your new vehicle is delivered
O er *
Specialists in sourcing
Salary Packaged Cars
Quick and easy Finance
Choose the car of your
Pay NO GST on your new car
purchase or its running costs
Save with national fleet
Novated Lease set up with
your Approved Bureau
Buy a new car with your Pre-Tax Salary and save thousands $$$$
Call us for an obligation free quote NOW
1300 738 601 www.fleetnetwork.com.au
Lease Package Save
Fleet Network Pty Ltd *To qualify for this o er you must mention this advertisement to Fleet Network prior to the completion of your initial contract. Vehicle must be new and supplied by Fleet Network. Not valid in conjunction
with any other current Fleet Network o ers. Employees should consult their employer's salary packaging policy before entering into a contract.
Army October 25, 2012
24Former leader dares
WRITING a book about
his experiences was not
even a consideration for
Maj-Gen John Cantwell
(retd) when he was making his way
across the Iraqi desert with British
and US forces during the first Gulf
War in 1990-91.
If he had considered it, he proba-
bly wouldn't have imagined the deep-
ly personal account of a lifetime bat-
tling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
(PTSD) that is his compelling first
book, Exit Wounds.
"I wanted to use the stories of the
wars I was involved in over my career
to talk about PTSD -- to cast a bit
of sunshine on this issue," Maj-Gen
"There are a lot of soldiers out
there suffering in silence and I felt
that if I were to man up and admit
publicly that I had a problem, then I
could do some good and hopefully
help people avoid my mistake."
Maj-Gen Cantwell's battle with
PTSD started during his time in
Iraq in 1991 and would follow him
throughout his career, which included
a return to Iraq in 2006 and 12 months
commanding Australian forces in the
MEAO in 2010, all the while avoid-
ing help for the stigma associated
with mental health injuries and fear it
would hurt his career.
His decision to write a book devel-
oped early last year when he hit it
off with the Walkley Award winning
journalist who would become his co-
writer, Greg Bearup, during a chance
"I mentioned I'd been consider-
ing writing about my experiences and
about PTSD, maybe a feature for the
newspapers, maybe a book," Maj-Gen
"We spoke over the subsequent
months and eventually decided a book
would be the way to go."
His original intention was to have
Mr Bearup ghost write the work, but
in the end Maj-Gen Cantwell did most
of the writing.
"We needed a summary at short
notice to present to publishers, so I
knocked out about 3000 words and we
got a very strong response from that --
we had our choice of publishers.
"As I churned out the first few
chapters, Greg was surprised and I
was surprised to find it was coming
together well and Greg's role changed
to being more of a mentor and editor
throughout the process."
Managing publicity commitments
since the October 1 release of Exit
Wounds and accepting a more public
profile would turn out to be a tougher
challenge than the writing.
"The response to the book has
been extraordinary," Maj-Gen
Cantwell said. "I've received a lot
of calls and emails from people I've
served with who have had similar
experiences. Guys afraid to speak up.
I've had calls from the wives and part-
ners of soldiers who aren't travelling
well hoping I can convince them to
"I'm not an expert -- I just have
some experience and I've done my
best to help where I can."
Lifting the stigma associated with
mental health injuries is an impor-
tant step, he said, so soldiers felt they
could access the available support
mechanisms as early as possible.
"We instil in our people a warrior
self-image and encourage physical
and mental toughness. That's neces-
sary, that's how the war is won.
"The downside is when people are
hurting it's hard for them to admit they
have a problem -- they worry it'll be
perceived as weakness.
"PTSD causes a lot of problems in
your life and the message of the book
is to get out there and do something --
"If you've got a sore knee, you go
to the RAP and get it sorted and it's
the same case here -- if your emotional
state is a bit dodgy, go and see a men-
tal health professional and get it fixed."
He said he was not the "outspoken
former general" the media sometimes
"I remain absolutely in awe of
the courage, compassion and resolve
of our soldiers, and the remark-
able progress they have achieved in
Afghanistan despite enormous chal-
lenges," he said.
"I've been reported as saying
I think we should leave Afghanistan
but that's not the case. The men who
have died there lost their lives doing a
job they love in the company of their
mates to make a difference for the peo-
ple of Afghanistan. Their sacrifice can
never be diminished. We need to finish
the job in their honour."
For his post retirement future, Maj-
Gen Cantwell is considering more
writing and plans to walk the Kokoda
Track with wounded veterans next
"I'd like to help out where I can,"
What inspires a senior officer to write a tell-all
book about a career-long battle with post-
traumatic stress disorder? John Wellfare
Personal story: Maj-Gen John Cantwell, pictured here in Afghanistan
in 2010, hopes his book Exit Wounds will encourage other soldiers who
suffer PTSD to seek help.
Photo by Sgt Brent Tero
Links Archive October 11th 2012 November 8th 2012 Navigation Previous Page Next Page