I have just discovered Bills story via a weekend newspaper and found his honesty refreshing and humbling. My name is David Hale and I live in Napier. I joined the NZ Army as a fifteen year old Cadet in January 1963 and was about the fourth youngest person in the NZ Army for that entire year. Follwing my non-medical and quite honourable discharge, after two and a half years in Waiouru, I gradually disappeared into the netherworld of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder except that I didn’t know it…and neither did anyone else. It wasn’t long before I developed a real lust for alcohol, or anything intoxicating. To be honest I had already given chemical ‘substances’ a fair old nudge so being able to practice my new profession unhinderd by Army service was the icing on the cake. For the year of 1968 I lived and worked in Sydney and returned back Home wrecked and broken in mind and body due to working very long hours as a carpenter and drinking ’til the early hours around the pubs and clubs of Sydney with very little sleep and a poor diet. Something was driving me beyond anything I could understand or explain…it felt like pain but it never occurred to me that my years in Waiouru had anything to do with it. It has been well documented that the Cadet unit was a violent and psychologically demanding place in which to work. At the end of 2004 the Government of the day held an 18 month long Ministerial enquiry into allegations of violence and worse,this enquiry was lead by an ex-High Court Judge. Five hundred ex-Cadets came forward with stories of misery and degradation during their time in the unit. My Father had been killed in an accident when I was Nine Yrs of age and the Army should have been a good place for me to grow, unfortunately it wasn’t. Whilst I was still 15 Yrs old I was subjected,as were some others in my barracks, to a sexual assault by an adult Artillery Sergeant. This man was stripped of his rank and Court Martialled to receive and 18 mth gaol sentence in a civilian prison. Also during the following year an Officer was removed from our unit for liasions with a boy in another platoon. I could relate many stories of assaults in the dead of night, and worse, but I would think anybody reading this would get the general idea. In Feruary of 1981, and long after I was discharged, a Junior Cadet(new inductee)was purposely shot dead in my old barracks by a Cadet Corporal. Following this incident, and after a new Commanding Officer took over things apparently improved until eventually the unit was shut down in 1991. At the end of 1969, aged 21Yrs, I was first sent to a psychatric unit in Hastings where I was administered strong Psych drugs and ECT and then committed to Porirua Mental Hospital courtesy of the Police. Once again ECT. After being discharged some months later I returned home and continued the life I lived in Australia but by this time I was depressed, paranoid and generally unwell. My relationships with family were disastrous and as I became even more affected I withdrew from society altogether, and for some time too. The next few years saw me in Gaol a couple of times and I had lots of ‘contacts’ with the police earning four convictions in the process. Two of these convictions involved loaded firearms. Interspersed with these incidents were committals to Kingseat Hospital under the A&D act, via the courts and once again the Police. Once again ECT. Eventually there were some ‘calm’ years, more or less, where I was able to hold down various jobs for a while but the drinking cycle, and eventually drugging on painkillers continued. Naturally there was a broken marriage and the loss of my Two Yr old daughter. This relationship has never been repaired.
Over the years I have presented with flashbacks, nightmares etc and kept a knife under my pillow for 30 Yrs in case I was attacked in the night. I have been an angry person for most of my life and ‘enjoyed’ terrible realtionships with others. As a bonus I have had,and do still have,various physical ailments. These include Asthma,Iritis,shingles and the biggest bogey of all, Ulcerative Colitis. Please read on for the good bits. AFTERMATH: I have been completely clean an sober for the last 11yrs and have had much help to get where I am now,a good measure of this help as come from Veternas Affairs via the Defence Force. I am more than grateful to my second wife of thirty years for her love and loyalty and to to my God. It is true that I will be mildly medicated forever but this is a bonus considering that I should have been dead by my own hand decades ago. To spite the devil I am now just turned 65 Yrs. If any readers have been in the military and affected by their service, and have docmentation to prove it, first get all your ducks in a row by gathering any and all proof from DF archives,doctors,hospitals etc. then contact your local RSA, or approach Margaret Snow the Pensions Officer of RSA review. Get as much information concerning your case as possible, leave nothing out for it may be important, even times dates etc. My own case spanned something like 18 mths but I am well taken care of. Lastly, I am happy with my life now, it’s just wonderful to be happy, to be able to sleep, to enjoy love and my life of writing. This isn’t a plug for my first book entitled “800 Days:and no sad songs” but if you wish to have a look at it, synopsis etc, free of charge, have a squizz on AMAZON BOOKS or GOOGLE the title. The book is also available in some libraries throughout the North Island. I love writing so much, and being out in the community…sober. Life is so good I could could just scream it out from the rooftops. Am getting close to finishing my second book,a novel,and hope to publish next yearish. Finally (at last)thank-you for allowing me to share a part of my journey with you and remember, never give up, there is hope and love if you want it badly enough. Every person is worth something even when they don’t think so,you might surprise yourself. Seek help from everywhere and anywhere even from Samaritans or Lifeline to begin with. For anyone who suffers from PTSD read as much as you can on the subject and most of all write lots of stuff to yourself…keep a diary if necessary I have found it very cathartic. PTSD is a bitch of a thing but it will compromise itself if you work at it. Talk to people.
Best Wishes To all of You.
David A. Hale