Damien Timms - Mentally challenging

Running time
2 min 1 sec
Department of Veterans' Affairs


Rwanda was, as I said, it was just seen I think as just sort of this little side mission. It wasn't anything. People didn't realise some of the actual horrors there. If anything about Rwanda was sort of a mentally challenging, not physical. It's not like an operation in Timor where we're climbing hills, mountains, all that, or Afghanistan where you're out there and there's actually a real sort of danger from IEDs and all that. I'm not saying any of them are different. You can die on all these places, but that place was mentally challenging. So I think because it was mentally challenging people don't appreciate it as much.

In fact, when we got back we were sort of just given our medals away from the cameras. So we got off the plane and you know how at the airports they've got the area just before you go out to where your loved ones meet you and all that, a minister or something turned up. I don't remember who it was. It just sort of was "Here's your medal, here's your medal," and it was sort of 'Hey, on your way' type of thing.

I may sound like I'm exaggerating a bit but that's the way it felt. Later on it's very formal. Other medals that I've received from different operations it's like you can see the weight of Australia behind things. So much so, there's a lot of lessons we learned from Rwanda and the people who are still in the military apply from what they see as some of the failures to be a positive. So they've learnt from that so that our current troops will never go through that sort of poor process or systemic errors.

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