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7th April 2022 Community News

Healing Service Wounds Creatively and Mindfully

Mary Hemmingway   cropped

Navy veteran Mary Hemingway is working on healing herself from her past and values the help she’s receiving from Military and Emergency Services Health Australia’s (MESHA) wellbeing programs.

As Mary explained, there have been many ebbs and flows throughout her life which have taken a toll; from dealing with people at their worst to a global pandemic. Mary’s wellbeing was declining, and she knew she had to do something about it.

Mary joined the Navy in 1979 and was part of the first group of Australian women to go to sea. She served for five and a half years full time before becoming a reservist for 20 years. Aside from her military background, Mary was also a paramedic for 13 years before retiring in April 2018.

For much of her career Mary has dedicated her life to helping others, even working as a COVID support person in contact tracing and management, counselling close contacts and helping them throughout their quarantine.

“Due to my paramedic experience, I’m used to dealing with people at their worst, which has helped in assisting those whose anxiety has been heightened during this pandemic,” Mary said.

Today, Mary is taking charge and working on her own mental health after some personal struggles.
It was hearing about MESHA’s support programs for service men and women that piqued her interest, including the Invictus Pathways Program, the GEARS Program and Art Therapy.

“Exercise helps me sleep so doing activities through the Invictus Pathways Program enables me to exert
my energy in healthy forms,” Mary said.

“The GEARS Program and Art Therapy are allowing me to unpack all of these layers of trauma and recognise where they come from, but also to realise that it’s not my fault. I have strategies now that help me move forward which is much better for the soul.

“As the GEARS Program is peer-led, this has helped me realise that I’m not alone in how I’m feeling and it’s helped me to relate to my fellow service men and women.”

Mary also has Art Therapy lessons once a week, which has not only helped her healing process, but it’s also brought her closer to her eight-year old grandson, Xavier.

“My grandson loves drawing so my son drops off pictures and colouring them in with watercolours has been very therapeutic,” Mary said.

“This has definitely brought us closer together. He’s such a fantastic drawer and I’ve really enjoyed colouring his creations with watercolour.”

Mary’s healing through MESHA’s programs is thanks to the generous support from people like you, making it possible for these services to continue.

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