Talking about PTSD

When firefighter Josh Martin walks for 20 kilometres with a 20 kilogram pack on his back the burden he carries will be heavy.

SPEAKING OUT: Firefighters and the community will walk this April to remember Nathan Shanahan and raise PTSD awareness.

SPEAKING OUT: Firefighters and the community will walk this April to remember Nathan Shanahan and raise PTSD awareness.

But, it will be nothing compared to that faced by those living with post traumatic stress disorder.

The Ballarat City firefighter will be joined by hundreds of others as they walk to pay tribute to firefighter Nathan Shanahan who died by suicide late last year. 

Mr Martin, who is co-ordinating the event called Walking Off the War Within, said the challenge was a replica of the walk Nathan completed in April 2015 when he walked from Mildura to Adelaide.

“We say, if we walk as one we can share the burden,” Mr Martin said.

Nathan’s father John Shanahan said the walk would highlight the need to be open and talk about PTSD. 

“We really want to highlight PTSD. We’re certainly getting alot of awareness now,” Mr Shanahan said.

“It’s something Nath would be wanting us as a family to pursue. He spoke to strongly about (his struggles) and did so much for Soldier On.

“As a legacy to him, we certainly need to be pushing it.” 

Walkers will walk laps of Victoria Park on April 22 while booths with information from support agencies including Lifeline, the Black Dog Institute, Survivors of Suicide and Soldier On will be based at the back oval of St Patrick’s College. 

“(Nathan) was a massive advocate of speaking publicly about mental illness and getting it out there,” Mr Martin said. 

“Unfortunately, his days got too dark and he couldn’t handle it. So we are doing this to honour and continue the fight he started three years ago.”

The walk will begin at 9am and is expected to be completed by 4pm. 

“It’s extremely  important family members come as well … because they can share the burden,” Mr Martin said. 

The support for the walk will be statewide – with emergency service members in Northern Territory and Western Australia also jumping on board and hosting their own walks. 

Mr Shanahan said the walk was to remember Nathan but also to encourage everyone to talk about mental health.

“We need all workplaces and businesses to become aware of mental illness and to have processes in place acknowledging that mental illness is a genuine illness.” 

Register: walkoffww.com