Hiker slammed as unfit is actually a war hero with PTSD


Rescue crews winch Aaron “Dogga” to safety.

A hiker criticised as “unfit” after being winched by helicopter from a mountain in NSW is a two-tour war hero who says he froze because of a post traumatic stress disorder meltdown.
The 38-year-old, 115kg army veteran, who did two tours for the Australian ­Defence Force in the , said he was crippled by a wave of “anxiety” on Easter Monday when he reached Mt Warning’s 1159m peak.
Rescue crews were called and 20 men were deployed to get Aaron “Dogga” to safety.
Thousands of taxpayer dollars later he was flown to Lismore Base Hospital where he was quickly discharged.
The Alstonville man gave his last name to the Gold Coast Bulletin but asked that it not be revealed.
Corp confirmed his background after speaking to his mother, partner and a fellow soldier.
The war hero was in a horrific car crash while in service in 2006 and had to carry one of his best mates, Lance Corporal Andrew Jones, in a casket after the soldier was killed by an Afghan sniper in 2011.
Dogga told News Corp Australia he never truly recovered from his experience and was “disgusted” to hear rescue workers “belittling” his condition by saying he was not fit enough to make the climb.
“Once I hit the top that’s when my PTSD really took over and it took all my strength not to take the easy way out and leave it all ­behind me,” he said.
“I sat up there for what felt like about two hours, trying to relax and compose myself. I tried three times to start going back down but my brain wouldn’t let me move. There was a great group of three lads that tried to help me but they insisted I call 000.
“The lady on the phone said possible dehydration but I know the signs and symptoms and peed clear, didn’t have a headache and I still had water with me.”
The father of two said he was upset by rescuers who later said he only got into trouble because “he went up with no food and just a water bottle and tiredness kicked in ­because he was dehydrated”.
“I had plenty of water, a salad wrap, an apple and a muesli bar,” Dogga said.
“I am upset … because PTSD is a real condition.
“I saw the signs telling you not to climb after 1pm in winter but it was 1pm exactly and (it was only autumn).”
Dogga was first diagnosed with PTSD in 2006 after badly injuring his spine in an army vehicle crash.
Gaining control of his demons, he went on to serve in Afghanistan in 2009 for six months and returned for another nine-month tour in 2011.
“Both those tours made my PTSD much worse and I was medically discharged in 2014,” he said.
“Since then it has been a constant struggle. I started a Facebook group called IGY to bring awareness and support for those with PTSD and currently have 4500 members.”

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