The Navy Diver’s interview with Australian Army Veteran James Smith
The Navy Diver recently put Australian Amy Veteran James Smith in the hot seat to talk about his time in the Australian Army, his near death experience and life outside the military. Whilst working on the front line in Afghanistan, James survived an IED blast (Improvised explosive device). He suffered shrapnel wounds to his arms and face and lost six members in his crew. He lives to share his incredible story.
In his own words, James describes his very first patrol in Afghanistan… “I remember seeing kids jumping around and playing ball and it was a bit surreal to me. I just thought how beautiful this country was and how could this be dangerous and it was at that moment that an IED (Improvised explosive device) blew up and one of the engineers went flying through the air and it really took me back down to reality that I’m in a war zone and people are trying to kill me. When the IED blast went off, the way I think about it was like God just struck the earth with his finger as hard as he could and the ground lifted and threw dirt and everything in the air and this engineer went flying. It brought my guard back up and made me quickly realise where I was and what I needed to do to stay alive.” James Smith
PTSD, anxiety, depression and suicide are very much a reality. The world is watching, we have something important to say and we want to change people’s lives. We want to see mental health become a global priority and want to advocate for veterans or any individual who might be suffering. Let’s lift our voices, I know we are but let’s get louder.
Watch Part One below
In Part Two of our interview Australian Army Veteran James Smith takes us back to that critical moment in Afghanistan when he survived an IED blast (Improvised explosive device). Whilst James was working on the front line as an infantry soldier, he deployed with the sixth battalion for the Royal Australian Regiment to Afghanistan on Mentoring Task Force One. He suffered shrapnel wounds to his arms and face and lost six members in his crew.
In James’ own words he describes his near brush with death as… “It was like in the movie “Saving Private Ryan” at the start where the bomb goes off and he can’t hear anything. It was sort of a whistle sound and he’s looking around quite dazed. That’s essentially what it felt like for me where I couldn’t hear anything. I was looking around, thinking what just happened, I was pretty confused. I realised I was no longer holding my weapon and there was just blood pouring down my arm. Blood was also pouring out of my face as well. That’s when I realised a bomb had gone off and that I’ve been wounded.” James Smith
Watch Part Two below
In Part Three of our conclusive interview, Australian Army Veteran James Smith shares his thoughts on being diagnosed with PTSD and veterans overcoming frontline trauma. In James’ own words, “Don’t let what happened to you become your identity. I was diagnosed with PTSD and depression and anxiety and that essentially became who I was. I was James Smith, Afghan vet with PTSD. Then it was talking to people like family, friends and psychologists and realising that there is more to me than that.”
According to the BBC.com: the suicide rate for ex-servicemen is nearly 20% higher than the national average, while ex-servicewomen are twice as likely to take their own lives compared with other Australian women. The Australian government is set to privately investigate and review more than 400 known cases of suicide since 2001.
Comparing that to the statistics in the US and in reference to the Militarytimes.com: According to department records, more veterans died by suicide from 2005 and 2017 (nearly 79,000) than the total number of U.S. troops who died in 30 years of war in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan (about 65,000).
PTSD, anxiety, depression and suicide are very much a reality. The world is watching, we have something important to say and we want to change people’s lives. We want to see mental health become a global priority and want to advocate for veterans or any individual who might be suffering. Let’s lift our voices, I know we are but let’s get louder. If you need help with your mental health, or know someone that does, reach out to the team at the Soldier On foundation and Beyond Blue or donate generously at https://soldieron.org.au OR
Watch Part Three below
Thanks for your service legend and sharing your story with The Navy Diver.