If you see a convoy of army vehicles, fire trucks and ambulances roll in to town on Saturday, don’t fear – there’s no civil unrest.
The eye-catching procession is the Lightning Bolt 2 Convoy, the world’s largest post traumatic stress awareness event on its way around Australia before ending up at the Invictus Games which open in Sydney on October 20.
The convoy, organised by Stand Tall 4 PTS, is stopping at 17 towns and cities through four Australian states during Mental Health Month to raise awareness for PTS.
“We want to make as many impacts as we can on current military personnel, veterans, first responders and all sufferers of PTS and their families,” said Stand Tall 4 PTS founder, veteran and former Australian test cricketer Tony Dell.
“We will have job creation services, psychologists and experts with us, and ex-Invictus competitors, veterans and police officers will be sharing stories of incredible resilience and recovery.”
Three Bushmaster military vehicles, another army truck, fire trucks and ambulances will set up camp in the Sovereign Hill car park from 11am to 6pm on Saturday to raise awareness of PTS and connect with and support those affected.
Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, founded the Invictus Games in 2014 to support injured servicemen and women. He will officially open the games on October 20 and, alongside his wife the Duchess of Sussex, will tour Australia including a day in Melbourne on October 18.
Mr Dell founded Stand Tall 4 PTS in 2011, after he was diagnosed with PTS and says it is one of the biggest global health problems but among the least understood.
“We realised that there wasn’t enough support for our veterans’ mental health after the shell shock horrors of World War I,” Mr Dell said.
“With the support of high profile figures like Prince Harry, it looks like things are changing, and we have been working tirelessly to maximise that change, deliver real resources and support those most in need.”
Also touring with the convoy is actor Tim Marriott, creator of the award-winning UK play Shell Shock which will be performed at Sovereign Hill at 7pm on Saturday.
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The play is the story of a soldier coping with symptoms that can lead to Post Traumatic Stress after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, giving a glimpse in to the world of confusion, doubt and disconnection affecting 1.4 million Australians including ex-servicemen and women, emergency services workers and those who have suffered trauma.
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