Originally from the Western Suburbs of Sydney, Pauly never considered himself to be sporty but still had a love for water sports and car racing. He was determined to serve others from a young age, becoming a St John’s Ambulance cadet at just eight years old. A self proclaimed “gypsy,” Pauly worked across the country before beginning his years of service.
Pauly served as an Australia army medic during the first half of the Vietnam War before he was discharged in 1973. After his discharge, he transitioned into a career in nursing, dedicating a further decade to helping others in a different capacity. Since then, he has worked as a case worker, continuing his commitment to service.
Despite his immense passion to give back, Pauly’s personal post service journey has not always been easy. Challenges during and after his service have affected him physically, with him sighting issues with his hearing and no longer having use of his legs. Now wheelchair bound, The physical effects of Pauly’s service have been something that has taken him a long time to come to terms with, affecting his overall health and wellbeing.
Pauly pushed his mental struggles down during his post-army life, resulting in years of social isolation and mental health challenges. He describes his post service years as a “life of trauma,” at times, but is still determined to live a life of optimism.
After 20 years of social isolation, Pauly reached out to Invictus Australia looking to use sport as a tool to aid him in his recovery journey and to help with the struggles of post-service life. It was then that Pauly connected with his local engagement manager Jye, who began to connect Pauly with veteran’s in his local area.
Through the connection point with Jye, Pauly has found support and camaraderie within his local veteran community. He is now a friendly face as many Invictus Australia’s local events, attending parkrun as part of Team Veteran, participating in a weekly walking group and attending a Horse Aid workshop in the Sutton Forest, NSW.
Pauly has always believed in the healing nature of water and describes it as his happy place. He canoes regularly and has come along to a Dragon Boating come-and-try day Jye from Invictus Australia facilitated.
Through Jye and Invictus Australia, Pauly was also able to connect with Scuba Gym, an organisation in his local area who provides water therapy to assist in the rehabilitation of people with disabilities. Because of this, Pauly has been able to participate in regular scuba therapy sessions, which eventually led to him being able to walk underwater for the first time since being wheelchair bound.
Jye keeps in touch with Pauly regularly, who is now excited he has finally found a strong community he can connect with through sport. To get active in your local community, click below.
“I am living a life of optimism and contentment. I want to help people, now I have a place.
Organisations like Invictus Australia are extremely helpful for forming social connections, especially when you don’t have any.”