Gail MacDonell's story of Robert MacDonell
Robert Adrian MacDonell was born on 3 January 1948 in Singleton, New South Wales. He was called up for National Service and deployed to South Vietnam in 1970. He served with the 7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (7RAR).
After the war, he married Gail and settled down to have a family.
Gail Vicki MacDonell OAM said it only became clear years later, after they'd had children, that Robert was severely affected by his wartime experiences. After multiple breakdowns, Robert was hospitalised with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Frustrated by lack of recognition of what she had found to be a common experience of veteran's families, Gail returned to university to research the problem and received a PhD in Psychology. In 1997, Gail established and ran a support group for partners and families of veterans.
Gail is a registered nurse, specialising in Emergency and Intensive Care, and lectures at the University of New England. She continued her commitment to veteran health, becoming a founding member of the Partners of Veterans Association of Australia Inc. In 2011, she received an Order of Australia Medal for her work with military families.
Gail is the Executive Director of Australian Families of the Military Research and Support Foundation Ltd. Its mission is to provide funds for research and advance the health and wellbeing of partners and families of serving Australian defence personnel and veterans.