Walk off the war within
Words by Nadia Chapman

Now in its fourth year, Walking Off the War Within will continue supporting veterans and the first responder community when the organisation holds its annual walk on June 29, raising awareness of mental health.

It’s being organised by Lee Duke in memory of his mate and fellow veteran Nathan Shanahan and in a bid to show other veterans and former emergency services personnel they’re not alone in battling the war within.

Nathan did his own walk in 2015, 400km from Mildura to Adelaide, carrying a 20kg pack to raise money for and awareness of mental illness.

He lost his battle in 2016 and friends and family held the first walk in his honour the following year.

“Nathan and I served together in the Australian Army whilst posted in Darwin, he was a great soldier, mate and someone who I looked up to,” Lee recalls.

“In 2019, I chose to run a walk here in Brisbane on the Peninsula to continue Nathan’s legacy as I felt a deep sense of responsibility not only to him but also all the other veterans out there in the community struggling with mental health.

“Nathan’s purpose was to raise awareness and funds for mental health, and I believe continuing this will make a positive impact in our community.”

The Redcliffe Peninsula walk includes the option to walk a 5km, 10km or 20km course with or without a 20kg pack.

“One important aspect of Walking Off the War Within is that it is a free event open to everyone,” Lee explains.

“We firmly believe that access to mental health support and resources should be available to all, regardless of financial constraints.

“Through the generosity of our sponsors, donors and volunteers, we are able to provide a supportive and inclusive environment where individuals can come together to raise awareness, show support, and foster healing.”

Lee has noticed the event grow exponentially every year, making it easier for him to pour more into it.

“This year, I now have plenty of gazebos for out on course and at the village to support our walkers with shade and refreshments.

“(We also have) an inflatable start and finish line, fencing, seating and banners.

“And this year, I hope to add entertainment in the way of a live band, if possible, which all enhances the experience on the day.”

Some of the proceeds from Walking Off the War Within Brisbane will go to SMEAC and Trek2Health.

For more information and to register, visit the website.

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