The Home They Deserve

Christina Underwood
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A deserving Defence family in Nambour was given a much-appreciated home makeover, thanks to the suggestion of an RSL Queensland Veteran Services Officer, who was assisting them with a Department of Veterans’ Affairs claim.

After purchasing an apartment in Noosa, the RSL Art Union team was looking for a veteran family to donate the existing furniture to. Veteran Services Officer Jason Ryan, knew exactly the right family. Mick Brauns joined the Army in 1998, at the age of 18. During his service, Mick deployed to East Timor in 1999 and twice to Iraq in 2004 and 2005 as an Armoured Vehicle Commander.

Mick with his children Henry and Rose.Mick with his children Henry and Rose.

Unfortunately, during his first deployment to Iraq, Mick’s vehicle was attacked, and he was injured and medically flown out. After recovering, Mick went back to his duties and returned to Iraq for his second tour. In 2006, Mick voluntarily discharged due to family commitments, but unfortunately his first marriage fell apart soon after. A few years later, Mick met Kate and they now live in Nambour on the Sunshine Coast, with their two children, Henry (five) and Rose (two), and their puppy Frankie. Sadly, Mick suffers from the crippling effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, including anxiety, anger and depression. It was only in the past few years that he reached out for help and was diagnosed with the disorder. Kate reveals that an incident in 2015 triggered the Brauns to realise Mick needed help.

“We were in bed and a drunk driver wrote off our car,” Kate said. “The noise of the crash triggered something in Mick that brought everything to the front of his mind. After that, he started jumping at me, rolling over in the bed. Thunder and lightning were triggers, too.” Mick was referred to a psychiatrist and psychologist by his GP, and he decided to quit drinking to aid the psychological recovery process. Unfortunately, this didn’t make things easier.

We soon realised that the alcohol had been numbing him and helping him block things out. So, when he stopped drinking, his thoughts came into his mind and he didn’t know how to deal with them and struggled to vocalise them, and he fell into an even worse depression,” Kate explained. Mick’s trade is a four-wheel drive accessories fitter, but he had to stop working as he realised the noise in the workshop and the work-related stress was triggering his symptoms.

“He would always come home from work tired, grumpy and with a headache. He also started to struggle at home with our small children and all the noise,” Kate said. Kate was recommended to get in touch with Jason at the RSL by Mates4Mates, after going to fortnightly coffee mornings with fellow veteran families. The meetings helped considerably.

“It was really nice to be around people who knew what I was going through,” Kate said. “They have a great supportive network for the family.” Jason played a key role in assisting Mick with his Department of Veterans’ Affairs claims. In helping them, Jason relieved a lot of stress for Mick and Kate, especially as a family without an income and two young children to support.

“It’s been a very long road, but we’re getting there, and Jason has really helped with that,” Kate said. “We had no clue what to do. When we met Jason, he was enthusiastic, which I thought was strange… why would you get excited about a claim? But I realised he was excited because he knew he could help us.”

After hearing what the Brauns family had been through over the years, Jason couldn’t have found a more deserving home for the Noosa apartment furniture. Kate said most of their furniture was “ancient” – with their fridge being 15 years old and their mattress over 10 years old.

“We’re blown away that Jason even suggested this to us in the first place; I didn’t feel worthy enough. It’s amazingly special, and there was so much stuff! We feel like we’ve really been supported,” Kate said.