Walk in my shoes

WAR is hell on your body, and often it’s not until after retirement that the effects really sheet home for veterans.

According to US veterans health expert Dr Stephen Hunt, more than half of all veterans have dodgy backs, necks, knees or shoulders, they suffer a disproportionate number of bacterial infections and are likely to be suffering hearing loss. And that’s before you even get to their mental health issues.

• Anthony Russell, Les Butt and Brian Firns say health niggles are part of the territory when you’ve retired from the armed forces. Photo by Steve Grant

Armed forces

East Fremantle resident and local RSL stalwart Les Butt, who served in Vietnam, Borneo and Singapore, knows all too well the creaks of his bones.

“If I sit down I might never get up again,” he jokes while posing for a photo.

To help combat the problem, Veterans Health Week is this year focussing on the benefits of physical activities, which have been shown to significantly reduce the wear and tear on vets’ bodies.

The Freo RSL has jumped on board and has organised a walk/jog/cycle from the East Fremantle tennis club to Point Walter today, Saturday October 21 from 11am, followed by a barbecue at 1pm.

Net-Walk, as it’s being called, is being organised by Anthony Russell, a veteran of Afghanistan, Timor Leste and the Solomon Islands, who’s become a fitness trainer following his retirement from New Zealand’s armed forces (in the true Anzac spirit, he also spent a month embedded in the Aussie forces as part of an exchange).

“There is a strong relationship between physical activity and mental health and I encourage everyone, not only veterans, to come and join us on this special occasion,” Mr Russell said.

by STEVE GRANT

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