Veterans Health Week 2019

Posted on: Oct 21st, 2019 by adminva | Categories: Uncategorized
Veterans Health Week 2019

Veterans Health Week 2019

Veterans Health Week is held each year to promote good health and wellbeing within the veteran and ex-service community. 

This year the focus is on the importance of mental wellness, and we sat down with one of our inspirational Veterans Heidi, who is such a strong advocate for mental wellness.

Let’s Meet Heidi

Tell us a little about yourself and your experience transitioning into a life outside of the army?

My philosophy to life is doing the best you can. If I have a bad day I say to myself “tomorrow’s a new day and no matter how hard the past was you can always start again”. A motivational affirmation I have on set on my alarm clock each morning is “be better than yesterday”. 
Transitioning out of the Army has been challenging. I served in the Army for 14 years and I learnt more about myself and what I could overcome by facing many challenging experiences. I learnt how important teamwork is, how to be dedicated to the job, how to be disciplined, have integrity, be resilient, and how to overcome adversity. The lessons I have learnt I know will serve me well and I will carry them on throughout my chosen career and life. I sustained a number of injuries throughout my Army career which lead me to understand how important it is to look after my own health and wellbeing both physically and mentally. 

What do you believe are the main contributors to helping your mental health? 

I believe social connecting would have to be firstly, and being with like minded people in a positive environment whether it’s athletics or catching up with a friend over a coffee is really important to me. Secondly would be what you put into your body such as healthy eating and everything in moderation. Thirdly for me is taking time out for myself which includes; gym, massages, magnesium baths (especially post training), yoga, listening to music, podcasts, mindfulness apps and spending time outdoors. Everyone has different strategies which work for them so try to find out what works for you! 

Given your career direction and history of being an athlete, how important do you think an active lifestyle is to help with general health and mental wellbeing? 

In 2017, I competed in Toronto at the Invictus Games in athletics in the 100m, 200m, and 400m event, as well as the mixed relay, where I received silver medals in all four events. Competing at the Invictus Games was such a healing and uplifting experience, alongside my fellow Australian team mates and competitors from other nations. The social connection was very important to me and I have made lifelong friends. The Invictus family has been important for my recovery by helping to assist with my transition and allow me to feel socially connected with other like-minded veterans. The journey to be selected for the Games was hard work but it gave me a purpose and a focus other than my personal battles, which is positive for my physical and emotional health and well-being. The camaraderie of my fellow Invictus Games teammates has allowed me to feel a sense of belonging and be socially connected.

In 2018, I was selected for the Invictus team again and competed in Sydney in October. My favourite highlight from the 2018 Invictus Games was crossing the finish line in the 200m race and winning a gold medal on home soil with the crowd roaring and having my family and friends there to share the special win with me – it was a very emotional moment for me. This was especially so, as I had injured my foot the month prior to the Games and was not able to run and only do my training in the pool. This injury played on my mind so close to the race – after 12 months lead up of hard training, I wasn’t really sure how I was going to perform on the day. The overall outcome of my performances surprised me immensely. The icing on the cake was backing it up with three other gold medals in the 100m, 400m and the long jump.

Seeing first hand during my Invictus experience how much the training and competing helped myself and my team mates really highlighted the importance of being active. The physical and mental changes in everyone was a very positive thing to see and just goes to show how important social connection and exercise is to living a healthy life. Participating in athletics and events which are held throughout the year gives me a goal to work towards and helps me stay motivated with my training, this motivation and regular exercise has a positive effect towards my general health and wellbeing. 

What encouraged you to then study a bachelor of Exercise Physiology after your time in the Army?

After serving fourteen years in the Defence Force, I had personally experienced and seen mates suffer disadvantages in different forms (mentally and physically).  Combining my passion for fitness, I decided I wanted to pursue a career in helping others rehabilitate by adopting a holistic approach. I am currently in my final year of university studying a Bachelor of Exercise Physiology at James Cook University and I’m looking forward to graduating soon. 



Heidi Joosten





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