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VIP Heroes Draw
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12:01am (AEST) Wed 17 Nov 2021


10am (AEST) Wed 22 Dec 2021


Craig Dimmock

Meet our VIP14 hero, Craig Dimmock – former Sergeant and 18-year veteran of the Royal Australian Air Force.

Like his father, Craig had a long and rewarding military career. But Craig’s transition to civilian life had its challenges for both him and his family.

Through Diggers Rest, and the support of RSL Queensland, Craig and his family found the help and healing that they needed.

18 Years in the Air Force

Craig Dimmock joined the RAAF in 1994, following in his parents’ footsteps. His father Darryl, a flight engineer and Vietnam veteran, met Craig’s mother, a shorthand typist, while they were both serving.

Craig worked as a diesel mechanic, eventually rising to the rank of Sergeant. He served in Amberley, Tindal, Darwin, Adelaide, Newcastle and Malaysia, and was twice deployed to Afghanistan. There he spent considerable time outside the wire, and he and his unit came under regular mortar attack and enemy fire.

Despite finding his career professionally rewarding, Craig says the time he spent training for war would leave a lasting impact.

“Across the Australian Defence Force, they are very good at winding you up to be hypervigilant, but they do not teach you how to let this go upon discharge.”

A Difficult Transition

“My transition [to civilian life] was difficult,” Craig says.

After voluntarily discharging and returning home from deployment to the Middle East, Craig found himself "wound up really tight".

He worked a number of mining industry jobs that seemed to suit his Defence background. But the “totally different psyches” of military and civilian life, and the ongoing effects of deployment, eroded Craig’s mental health.

“I was still hypervigilant and hated being in crowds. I started to drink very heavily; I would have very strong mood swings. I knew something was just not quite right.”

That prompted Craig to seek help, and he was eventually diagnosed with prolonged PTSD, major depressive disorder and alcohol use disorder.

But he wasn’t the only one suffering.

While working a FIFO job in 2017, Craig noticed his then seven-year-old son becoming distant and violent towards his parents.

So began Craig's earnest quest for solutions – and his discovery of Diggers Rest.

A Soldier’s Retreat

Set in the idyllic Sunshine Coast hinterland, Diggers Rest is a veterans’ retreat supported by RSL Queensland that welcomes guests free of charge.

It’s run by ex-soldier Nick Forster-Jones and his wife Karen, who opened not only their facilities but also “their hearts and ears” to Craig and his son.

“It was the best decision as a father I have ever made,” Craig says.

“All we did was talk, play games, cook together and just really get to know each other.

“When you go there, it's just peaceful. There's no loud traffic; there's no people screaming or yelling. It's just really quiet and calm, and you can do your own thing.”

“It's off the grid – no TVs, no computers. It's all just time to connect with yourself and your family.”

It was the kind of bonding that Craig can’t recall having with his own father, who spent long stints away on duty and “was living with his own demons”.

For Craig and his son, Diggers Rest was life-changing.

“We’ve been going there ever since, and since that time my son is completely different. He's all calm, loving and empathetic.

“We are so close as best mates and he has lost his violence and anger.

“I can honestly say that if we did not turn things around my son could still be suffering and I quite possibly wouldn’t be here.”

Connection and Support

Craig also found support in his local RSL Sub Branch – one of hundreds across Australia providing veterans with welfare and wellbeing services, as well as all-important social connection.

The Dimmock family has been closely involved with their Sub Branch since Craig’s father discharged in 1979.

“It's just a place to go to meet people who have similar interests, similar experiences. Because this Sub Branch is quite small it's a very tight-knit community,” Craig says.

“I've got certain friends here that I can call any time of the night or day with any problems I'm having, and they're happy to listen.”

When grappling with DVA claims (an often confusing and stressful process for veterans seeking government assistance), Craig could again depend on his Sub Branch for help.

“I've been seeing an RSL Advocate here for the past four years, and through him we've been able to get a lot of my claims across the line.

“The RSL has completely supported me. I thank them from the bottom of my heart because I know, and they know, that I wouldn't be here today without their support.”

A Heartfelt Thank You

Craig’s family found help and healing through Diggers Rest and RSL Queensland. Both are funded by the RSL Art Union – and your VIP membership.

“To VIP Club members I'd like to say, thank you very much.

“Without your help supporting the RSLs and advocates and volunteers behind the scenes, a lot of us veterans may not be here. It's helped so many people.”

Exclusive VIP Club benefits

Two draws worth over $2 million* in gold each.

Bonus weekly cash draws worth $5,000 each.

Bonus quarterly cash draws worth $100,000 each

* Subject to State/Territory Licensing approval.