37-year-old Geoff Evans of Lismore will be Australian Team Vice Captain at an inaugural international sporting event for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women.
The former Lismore High School student, Ballina Surf Lifesaving Club member and Army commando will be competing in the Invictus Games in London with over 400 competitors from 14 nations.
Geoff will be among 15 serving Defence members and 21 RSL sponsored athletes competing in the inaugural event, an initiative of His Royal Highness Prince Harry.
Geoff served in East Timor and Afghanistan. In 2010 he lost two friends and was wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated. Geoff suffered a traumatic brain injury, a spinal injury and also suffers Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
"That deployment holds bitter sweet memories for me. I felt privileged to lead Australian soldiers in combat but also lost two mates," he said.
Mr Evans is passionate about recovery through sports. He has incorporated this philosophy into a comprehensive sporting and activities program at the crisis management shelter he operates for homeless veterans.
"I strongly believe that sport and other physical challenges provide a strong pathway to improving the mental health of contemporary veterans," he said.
"The Invictus Games has provided me with the motivation I need to focus on my fitness goals again and to set an example to fellow veterans.”
Geoff will be competing in the athletics, swimming, archery and wheelchair volley ball events.
Geoff is a noted figure in the veteran support community of New South Wales. He serves as the Contemporary Veterans Advisor to RSL Life Care and says he is pleased to see the RSL and ADF moving in a common direction towards rehabilitation through Sport.