This May at the Ultra-Trail Australia Marathon we will be running #50kforLove in order to raise awareness about veterans, mental health and their families, without whom many veterans would continue suffering and be unsupported.

In honour of their service and the families who stand beside them, we are raising funds for The Commando Welfare Trust, The War Widows Guild of NSW and Sydney Legacy. These organisations have been stalwarts for our families since Pete Cafe’s and Ian Turner's suicides last year.

We are grateful for all they have done and will continue to do for our families - and many others - in years to come. We thank them for making sure we know we are not alone.

We are also raising awareness

With gratitude and in loving memory of Pete and Ian,

Gwen Cherne & Jo Turner

#hereforyou #whatyoudontsee #notallwoundsarevisible #veteransupport #mentalhealth #mentalhealthawareness
#mentalhealthmatters #suicideprevention #mentalwellness #mentalhealthrecovery #anxietyrecovery #depressionawareness
#selfharmawareness #yourstoryisntoveryet #ptsd #ptsdsurvivors #suicideawareness #mentalillnessawareness # militaryfamilies
#mentalillnessrecovery #supportourtroops #honourtheirservice #honourtheirfamilies #WarWidowsNSW #CommandoWelfareTrust @VVCSsupport @LegacySydneyNSW #LauncestonLegacy
We are two of the many families impacted by the deterioration of mental health following combat deployment and military service. We hope that by sharing our journey others might know they are not alone, that people care and there is support out there.

Who are we?

Jo & Ian Turner’s Story

Ian and I first met in high school at age 14 years. He was one of a kind, hard for the teachers to manage but fiercely loyal to every friend he had. Ian left high school and joined the Army, deploying to East Timor and successfully chasing his dream of becoming a Commando. It was at this same time, when Ian first went on selection, that he and I started dating, aged 22. We were married a couple of years later, and together we raised two incredible kids.

Watching Ian’s well-being deteriorate was like watching a car crash in slow motion. Like a speeding car, with each deployment he drove his destruction harder. I was desperate to put the breaks on without the kids and I going down too. Eventually, I had to step back because I couldn’t protect the kids. We loved him but his twists and turns were unpredictable.

Sadly, what we were predicting was the eventual outcome, but we always held onto hope that his unique ability to overcome adversity would protect him. I know Ian did not want to die; he told me he just didn’t know how to live with his suffering anymore. At 36 years of age, he ended his life. He ended his chance to love his family, to use his intelligence for good and to find peace in the simple things life offered him. He lost his direction when his suffering blinded him to all of the good around him.

Ian’s suicide is a complete contradiction to who I knew him to be, but it hasn’t changed what I most admire and appreciate about him. Ian taught me how to persist, how to keep going even when things are intensely hard. He was always proud of me and I trusted his judgements; he encouraged me to push hard and want more from life. At his finest Ian was fast, powerful, persistent and brave; he was intelligent, loving, funny and loyal. This is the man the kids and I will remain dedicated to.

Ian will always be my purpose centre, and this is how he lives on with me and our kids. Every step of this #50kforLove is done with gratitude for Ian and our family, as well as for those who share a similar story.

Gwen & Pete Cafe’s Story

My husband was Sergeant Peter Jon Cafe of Second Commando Regiment. He served in East Timor, Cambodia, Afghanistan and Iraq to name a few. Pete was in the army from the time he was 17-years-old. He discharged twice, and during one of those times away from the army, we met and fell in love in Afghanistan. We have three children, 19-, 5- and 3-years-old.

Pete was incredibly charismatic. Often, he was happy, joyful even and full of Big Love, for me, his children and his friends. His sense of humour and wit always refreshing and incredibly endearing.

Pete showed up to work every day with bells on, even when he was suffering, because that is what Pete did. But like many, I also experienced the pain of living with constant anxiety, walking on eggshells, violence and seeing the man I love become a shadow of himself - angry, impatient and out of control on his worst days. It was a living nightmare. It was painful to know he was scared and suffering so much, and that I could do nothing except stand by him.

Pete simply did not identify himself as someone who lived with and constantly fought depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress. He taught mental health first aide to his unit, knew all the signs, and was completely unwilling to seek support himself. Pete suicided on the 6th of February 2017. He was 48-years-old.

Pete was deeply loved and incredibly successful. Still, he died alone, scared and wanting to be forgotten. He died wanting to ease my burden, so that I could raise the kids without his pain getting in the way – at least that is how he saw it.

I am running #50kforlove in his memory. I am running in the hopes that our serving members and veterans will have the courage and support to seek out help, and that other partners know they are not alone in their suffering.
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Gwen Cherne
Royal National Park NSW

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