Invictus Games 2018 and 2022 competitor, Navy Veteran
Emilea was 18 years old when she joined the Royal Australian Navy in 2007 as a medic, serving at HMAS Albatross, responsible for assisting in healthcare for naval aviation and Army parachute training troops. Emilea also served at a military ward in Sydney hospital, served on HMAS Manoora participating in peace keeping missions throughout Southeast Asia, had a stint working on Operation Resolute and finished her service with Joint Health Command at RAAF Edinburgh, working with the medical team across all areas of the Australia Defence Force.
Emilea medically discharged in 2015, with a range of physical injuries significantly impacting her shoulder and left foot. These injuries have permanently impaired her ability to participate in able-bodied sports. EmiIea also suffers from post-traumatic stress.
“Before participating in the IPP, I had no hope for the future, felt worthless and was disconnected with family and friends. Through participation of physical activities, wellbeing programs and family organised activities, I have found purpose and hope. I feel I am a better mother, friend and family member. Through participation I have learnt to accept help and support from others while also taking great pride in helping others.”
After leaving the military, Emilea remained active in any way she could, at times this was detrimental to her wellbeing due to her injuries. According to Emilea, her mental health caused her to feel numb and isolated her from her friends, family, and the veteran community.
Being introduced to Adaptive Sport was a major turning point in Emilea’s recovery and rehabilitation.
“Using adaptive sports has allowed me to understand my limitations, set new goals through sport, achieve success through competition and integrate within the community. Integration through sport has been a significant factor in my ability to manage my psychological conditions. It has allowed me to develop a support network of like-minded people.”
Adaptive sport provides an opportunity for people with different abilities to participate in sport in a safe and inclusive environment. The use of a classification system allows participants with physical challenges to participate on an even playing field with other people of varying abilities. Almost all sport can be adapted to allow all people to participate, irrelevant of their different capabilities. Adaptive sport is enjoyed in many communities all around Australia.
This community led Emilea to the ADF Adaptive Sport program, and being selected for the Invictus Games 2018 Sydney and 2018 Warrior Games in the USA.
Competing in both events were highlights, with Emilea crediting the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 as saving her life, “Becoming part of the program, literally saved my life,” she said. Emilea’s mother also noted the integral part adaptive sports has had on Emilea’s overall wellbeing.
However, the Invictus Games in Sydney (2018) was a stepping stone in her ongoing recovery. Being so new to adaptive sports and integrating within the veteran community, meant that the selection for Invictus Games The Hague 2020 team could supercharge her ongoing journey of recovery, reintegration and rehabilitation through sport.
Emilea is testament to the positive impact of ongoing involvement in sport, at a local level as much as on the international stage. With strong connections to the South Australian Invictus Pathways Program, Emilea is surrounded by support throughout the year.
“Integration through sport has been a significant factor in my ability to manage my psychological conditions. It has allowed me to develop a support network of like-minded people.”
The Invictus Games is not about medals, in fact there is no official media tally. The concept of winning means so much more to veterans who compete. According to Emilea, “Winning is success in my sporting activities through participation, developing friendships with like-minded people from across the world, as well as developing a greater Invictus Games family for support when needed.”