Anzac Day: Heathridge man painting a life after service

Brad Kay at the Ocean Reef memorial. Picture: Martin Kennealey        www.communitypix.com.au   d468072
Brad Kay with a portrait of his great grandfather Kenneth Kay.
Picture: Martin Kennealey        www.communitypix.com.au   d468072
Brad Kay at the Ocean Reef memorial. Picture: Martin Kennealey        www.communitypix.com.au d468072 Brad Kay with a portrait of his great grandfather Kenneth Kay. Picture: Martin Kennealey        www.communitypix.com.au d468072

LIKE many former Australian Defence Force (ADF) members, Brad Kay has found it difficult adjusting to life after service.

The Heathridge resident spent 22 years in the Air Force, having joined in 1988 as a 19-year-old, and became a flight sergeant and communications technician.

“I joined to get a trade; the Air Force seemed to offer what I was after,” he said.

“I kept going until I wasn’t enjoying it anymore.”

That time came after being sent to Afghanistan in 2009, which Mr Kay said resulted in a “few odd moments” and being “rocketed daily”.

He left the ADF in 2010, keen to spend more time with his wife and young children. Mr Kay admitted to struggling since then and missed the comradeship.

He had joined a New South Wales Returned and Services League (RSL) club while still serving and afterwards became a member of Joondalup City RSL Sub-branch.

“You can talk to likeminded people that have had similar experiences,” he said.

“They offer support and allow people to meet up; sometimes you don’t know what support to ask for.”

A source of support for Mr Kay is the Military Art Program, a not-for-profit organisation offering free art classes for current and former ADF members.

“I’ve always been doodling and drawing and stuff like that,” he said. “I find the artwork calming.

“The classes allow people to chat and get advice on where to go (for help).

“It settles me and calms me and lets me focus a little bit. I’m able to be by myself and draw or paint or whatever I feel like.”

The RSL holds monthly meetings for members and though Mr Kay said many did not want to talk about their experiences, they were always there to help each other when needed.

He hoped to encourage younger people to join, whom he said could provide input into how it was run and make it relevant to them.

“If you can get younger or recent vets into the RSL, they can help with the direction of where the RSL can go,” he said.

“A lot of people think it’s an old boys’ club… (but) a lot more younger guys are starting to come in.”

For Mr Kay, Anzac Day will start at Ocean Reef War Memorial for the dawn service followed by helping to cook breakfast for attendees.

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