Cheryl Elston - Group debrief
We did have a debrief in-country before we left. We were sitting with all of our peers, and the good old Australian soldier doesn't want to show weakness. We don't want our mates to think that we didn't cope. And it was very light-hearted. There was no individual debrief, and that changed. My further deployments, you had an individual debrief, where you had the opportunity to feel safe. But, at the time, it was a group debrief, and I could see it.
A few of my friends had talked to me over our rotation. When we'd had a bad day or a couple of bad resus’ they would say to me, "Hey, Cheryl, that one sucked." I think because I was the female. And they'd come up and sit outside my room, and we'd talk, and after that, they'd be fine. They'd got it off their chest type of thing. And I'm glad I was there for that, but I wasn't a professional at, "What should I say?" I was dealing with it myself as well, so we were just honest, and we'd talk about that and say, "Yeah, it was bad. It sucks, and mines should be banned."
We'd talk, say all those things, and share our frustration, and our anger, and our hurt, and disappointment, and all that. But sitting in a room where you had your peers, you just didn't want to say, "Oh, I found that particular one hard," or "He affected me." It's not the done thing in the Australian Army, in particular. We don't show weakness. We're supposed to be tough. So I don't think that was the smartest way of doing it, and I think they learned from that. I think they really, truly believe they learned from that.