Carrie-Anne Bishop served in the Australian Army for 13 years so finding out she was no longer able to be part of the defence force for medical reasons was devastating.
The 34-year-old, from Brisbane, will be competing for Australia in the 2018 Invictus Games next week, after injuries to her shoulder and hips saw her medically discharged in 2015.
“It’s devastating when you get told that they no longer need you anymore because you can’t physically do what you signed up for. It’s a big blow,” Carrie-Anne tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
Carrie-Anne joined the Army in 2002, straight from high school. She served in the Corps of Transport before being promoted to Corporal. She also served in border protection in 2003, was deployed to Timor Leste in 2006, and worked on the G20 summit in 2014.
“I just wanted to be in the defence force because it gives you an opportunity to help people than you don’t necessarily get in a normal job. That was massive for me. It was a huge pride to wear the uniform,” Carrie-Anne tell us.
Unfortunately Carrie-Anne injured her shoulder in the first year of service, an injury which gradually got worse. And years of high-impact work for the defence force then also saw her hips deteriorate to the point where she has now had surgery three times, and is in constant pain if she stands for too long.
“When you leave the army – where you have a stable job, friends and support all the time – there is this big blank and you have to try and work out what to do with the rest of your life,” Carrie-Anne says of being discharged.
“Add to that being injured, which is something that impacts your ability to work, and you can find yourself quite isolated.
“That can affect you mentally. If you’re not working you have to try and find work and that can be depressing, you might feel like you’re not wanted anymore.”
That’s where the Invictus Games comes in, according to Carrie-Anne, who was heavily involved in sports such as volleyball and athletics before her injuries stopped her from being able to participate.
“The games has helped a lot of us come to terms with our injuries and changing circumstances, and helped us realise we probably weren’t coping as well as we thought we were,” Carrie-Anne admits.
“Sport was always my social hub, and so when I didn’t have that I was pretty isolated. I tried the coaching thing but found it too hard not to be involved.”
She first heard about the Invictus Games when she saw some of the 2017 games in Toronto on TV and decided she would apply to compete.
She says she felt massive pride when she found out she would be one of 72 athletes competing for Australia.
“You feel so much pride being able to wear the uniform and be there for your country when you’re in the army, so then to get this opportunity to represent them in a different way it’s a massive boost,” she says.
“It makes you feel so amazing and proud.”
The 2018 Invictus Games kick off with the opening ceremony on Saturday and will see 500 competitors from 18 nations compete in 13 adaptive sports. Carrie-Anne will participate in sitting volleyball, as well as seated discus and shot put in athletics.
Carrie-Anne says the best part about being involved in the games has been meeting people who are in a similar situation to her and the support that comes from that.
“They understand what you’re going through,” she tells us. “We all have our own stories and it makes it easier to be able to talk to people.
“I admire anyone who sustains a serious injury and is told you will not be able to do certain things again. They are the people who get up and get on with life.”
Got a story tip? Send it to email@example.com
Or sign up to our daily newsletter here.