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Marching On in Nepal

Synergy's very own Loughlin Gould is travelling to Nepal to complete the 'Three Passes Trek' and the 'Jiri to Namche Bazaar' Trek to raise money for Soldier On's March On Initiative, supporting veterans as they transition out of service and into life as a civilian.

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Defence Industry
Synergy updates
7 March 2023
Loughlin Gould
5 minutes
My Background

I was born into a Defence family, so I've always had a close relationship with those that serve. My Dad, Uncle, brother, and friends all work in Defence. Currently I'm working with the Australian Army in their people space, supporting the Army in recruitment and retention of its workforce.

In January this year, a close family friend and Australian Army Veteran, Mitch Judd, passed away. Mitch was also born into a Defence family. We grew up together as our families were posted from location to location across Australia. Mitch continued the family tradition and joined the Australian Regular Army in 2008 as a Rifleman. Mitch's story is a very familiar one, active war service in Afghanistan with the Australian Army and then later as a private security contractor protecting the Australian Embassy in Kabul. Over the past 14 years Mitch developed physical and mental health issues, struggled with physical and emotional pain, was clouded in understanding his value and finding purpose as he transitioned out of military, back into civilian life. Mitch spent several years trying to access support and trying different pathways but never felt like he could overcome the fog he experienced in order to make positive decisions. He spent over a decade battling with addiction, PTSD, anxiety, and depression which ultimately led to his final journey leaving behind his beautiful young daughter, Mia (aged 4). I am walking for people like Mitch who are struggling to transition out of military life, in the hope that we can not only highlight the gaps that exist in the system, but also support the networks that are available through organisations like Soldier On.

Despite people's best efforts, there are certain gaps in the current system. Mitch's story highlights some of the gaps that veterans can experience when trying to transition back into civilian life. There are countless veterans at various stages of the transition pipeline, who feel unheard, poorly understand, mentally foggy, lost and unable to see what value they contribute to society. The walk is to highlight support frameworks like Soldier On that could help not just save lives but let veterans flourish and understand that they are valued and can find 'their purpose', in uniform or not.


Why Nepal?

In 2014, my partner and I completed the Annapurna Circuit and fell in love with Nepal. We have always wanted to go back and trek in other parts of Nepal. But we didn't want to do the typical tourist thing and just hike the Everest Bas Camp, we wanted a challenge that matched the seriousness of the cause. We searched for 'the most difficult trek in the Himalaya' and this came up. There is a real balance between challenge and beauty, good experience and hard, and this is it. And to add weight to the challenge, we decided to add the 'Jiri to Namche Bazaar' as return hike. So, we are doing 288km, with 15,000m elevation gain, at altitudes of up to 5500m. This is the equivalent of three Kokoda's in terms of distance and elevation gained.

Lucky this isn't our first high altitude hike. We have experience hiking in Sikkim (India), Patagonia (Chili), Annapurna (Nepal), as well as a multitude of multi day hikes in Australia and New Zealand.

I've been lucky enough to tap into Synergies great pool of talent, with Scott Williams being an ex-military Personal Trainer who provided me a training program to support my training, while my partner has been strengthening through Pilates and walks/runs, so we will see how the military vs Pilates training program goes.

We are doing this unsupported, however, plenty of planning has gone into the preparation of the hike.


What can you do to help?

To support March On please like and share upcoming posts to spread the message and value of what Soldier On can bring to those like Mitch who really need support but might be feeling as if they can't be fixed or find 'their purpose'.

If you can walk, join March On and support the initiative. If you can donate to March On, that would be greatly appreciated. 


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