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Stephen Hayes

ADF Service: I joined the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in 1987 and, when I discharged in 2015, I was working as an Aircraft Life Support Fitter. During my time in the ADF, I deployed to Afghanistan and spent some of my military career in Darwin, Malaysia, Hawaii and around Australia.

Age: 53

Hometown: Koraleigh, New South Wales

Current town: Koraleigh, New South Wales

Competing in: Archery

Stephen Hayes

What is the Nature of your injury or illness?

I suffer from a range of mental and physical injuries including PTSD, depression and anxiety, resulting from a car accident and compounded by illness.

I am also dealing with physical ailments including painful ankle and shoulder conditions, tennis elbow, lower back issues and osteoarthritis in the knees. I have had mini strokes and neurological challenges, as well as chronic nerve pain.

What role has sport played in your rehabilitation?

Getting involved with sport has given me a purpose, a reason to get out of bed. I have met some really awesome people along the way - people who I talk to through social media and look forward to meeting at the training camps. I have met people from other countries - I stay in contact with and they are all like family and help with the journey. Without this, rehabilitation is nothing.

What is your greatest achievement to date?

Being selected for the Invictus Games is very high on this list – but achieving my personal best is a major highlight.

Why did you apply for the Invictus Games 2018?

I had previously competed in the United States Marine Corps Paralympics in 2013 and 2014 and the positive outlook and inspiration that I got from attending was enormous, so I thought, “why not have a go at Invictus Games?” and here I am.

What will “winning” look like for you at these Games?

I have already won. A medal would be a bonus but it is not what it is all about.

The person I most admire is…

My wife. She is my full time Carer and my driving force. She gives me encouragement and criticism and, at times, she is a very hard taskmaster. She is the main reason that I have started on this journey. She has been with me for my entire time in the ADF and has held the family together through the good and the bad. She has had to pick up the pieces through my PTSD and also though multiple surgeries for my cancer.