Fasten Your Seat Belt
Podcast of Blog Entry
Today I want to travel halfway around the world from my home in Nashville, Tennessee, USA, to the southeastern coast of Australia and the state of New South Wales. From just south of Sydney, in the Illawarra area, in the town of Wollongong comes the story of a woman who exhausts me just by my reading her accomplishments. But then, with combat survival training under her belt, why shouldn’t she be a supermom? From the Illawarra Mercury comes “Wind Beneath Many Wings: Sgt. Simone Campbell Is Helping Some of the Six Million Australians Who Suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.”
Simone Campbell is a personal trainer and small business owner who also commits time to promoting youth fitness, especially among underserved children in her area. She is the wife of a veteran of the conflicts both in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the mother of three sons under the age of twelve, one of whom has special needs. She is a recognized leader in her business community, and the article announces her receipt of an Illawarra Women in Business award.
So far, so good. She sounds like an average, high-achieving woman of the early twenty-first century.
But there’s one extra tidbit: she is a seventeen-year veteran of the Royal Australian Air Force, having served as combat support in countless air missions to East Timor, Iraq, and Afghanistan, as well as during the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, often helping to bring Australian special forces units into harrowing ground situations while under constant fire.
Not your average soccer mom, in other words, with a Pilates studio in the local strip mall.
Even more, Sergeant Campbell is herself not only a sufferer of combat trauma, but the child of one. Her father served with Australian forces in the Vietnam conflict, and she grew up in, shall we say, less-than-ideal circumstances, well-acquainted with the dangerously shifting moods of combat PTSD, as well as the dangerously uncertain streets of the less snazzy sections of town.
Perhaps because of this, she also is a founder and member of the board of directors of the Australian-New Zealander organization, FearLess Outreach, a community-based organization dedicated to becoming a clearinghouse for PTSD services and support throughout both countries, established partially in honor of the Australian and New Zealander troops who returned from the battles of World War I, especially at Gallipoli. She does speaking, advocacy, youth outreach—who knows, she probably even tinkers with the furnace down at the main office when it breaks down.
If you’re not yourself exhausted by now, reading about all this, I’m sure you could hop the next flight to Sydney, and she’d have a few chores for you of your very own waiting upon your arrival.
“Super-mom,” of course, is a not always a compliment these days, but if we take it to mean not “super-human” or “more-capable-than-you,” but rather just human and doing what she can with the capabilities that she has to make her own life, her family’s lives, and her community’s lives as meaningful as possible?
That, I suspect, even she would agree to. Once she has the time.
At one point in the article, her Royal Air Force job was described as a “flight attendant.” I think that we can all assume that when one is accompanying soldiers into a war zone with little or no runway in sight, guns a-blazing all around, one is doing a bit more than handing out ginger ale and peanuts.
Yet perhaps the name fits as well, no matter its military definition: attending to people, whether the Queen herself or some tough guy from down in Tasmania who is about to hop into the middle of a firefight, whether one of her own kids at bedtime or some poor kid from who-knows-where who’s trying to figure out if there’s any future worth having. No matter, she’s found and continues to find missions and connections worth looking for, striving for, and living for.
And how. Good for you, Sergeant.
I’d ask for some of your leftover energy, but I’m afraid even that might be a bit much for this old guy. If you have any peanuts, though: those I’ll take..
Until tomorrow, be well,
To learn more about FearLess Outreach