‘The Long Way Home’ is a play about war and a unique collaboration between the Australian Defence Force and the Sydney Theatre Company.
Based on real-life accounts, it tells the stories of soldiers deployed on operations in war-torn countries and the challenges they face reintegrating into civilian life.
Corporal Tim Loch is part of the 12-member cast. He served in East Timor, Papua New Guinea and Afghanistan, where he was severely injured in a bomb blast.
“It is a tough pill to swallow, because one minute you think your career and your entire life is going one direction and then literally bang, it’s going somewhere else and the sooner you can accept that, the better off you’ll be, then you can start to make changes,” he says.
Gary Wilson survived a helicopter crash in Kandahar in which four soldiers were killed. The acting experience is helping him overcome brain injury.
“I thought it would be great to get more public awareness about our wounded service personnel. Unfortunately, on top of the names we know that we’ve lost there are a lot more guys who have been wounded both mentally and physically,” he says.
It is a powerful experience both for the actors and the audience.
Brigadier Alison Creagh says the Australian Defence Force is keeping a close eye on their still vulnerable soldiers.
“There’s no doubt that we have cast members who have the full suite – psychological through to physical wounds and injuries – and looking after them is important to us,” she says.
‘The Long Way Home’ is on tour across Australia until April.