If life in danger call Triple Zero 000
If life in danger call Triple Zero 000

Hear Ben's story

Ben's story of holding on to hope after returning from service and experiencing PTSD.

About the episode

At 25, soldier Ben Farinazzo was sent to East Timor as assistant to the forces commander. It was 1999 and the country had just voted for independence. Being fluent in Indonesian, Ben formed a deep bond with the locals and saw the best and worst of humanity there. He helped deliver a baby – subsequently named after him – but also witnessed the terrible Suai Church Massacre.

Although he returned to Australia in body, his spirit was elsewhere. The experience left him battling PTSD for decades. It wasn’t until he called Lifeline and was advised to see his GP that he was finally diagnosed. 

Ben went on to spend months in a mental health unit recovering. However, after returning home for Christmas with his wife and three children, he was given a mountain bike as a present. On Australia Day he fell off the bike, slamming face first into  boulder, breaking his neck and back in five places.

Ben tells how his family, competing in the Invictus Games, discovering a talent for art, equestrian therapy, rowing at sunrise and simply enjoying being “ordinary” all helped him return to life.

Read the transcript

Ben with his medal