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Firey’s legacy to reduce stigma of mental illness

Firey’s legacy to reduce stigma of mental illness

Former veteran and fireman Nathan Shanahan’s legacy as an advocate for servicemen and women living with mental illness will live on as loved ones plan to bring his Walking off the War Within fundraiser to the Goldfields for the first time.

Mr Shanahan lived in Kalgoorlie-Boulder with wife Kosha before travelling to Darwin, where he served in the Australian Army and as a CFA firefighter.

Familiar with the experience of those living with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, Mr Shanahan was determined to end the stigma surrounding mental illness and, in 2015, set out on his own 400km walk from Mildura in Victoria to the Adelaide War Memorial.

What began as a personal conquest soon garnered public support, with Mr Shanahan raising more than $30,000 for support service provider Soldier On Australia.

Mr Shanahan continued to advocate for improved support services for servicemen and women until he died in 2016.

Family friend Maire Waddell has joined Mr Shanahan’s wife to bring Walking off the War Within to Kalgoorlie-Boulder in a bid to show support to those living with mental illness.

“Originally Walking off the War was designed to raise awareness for mental illness among servicemen, but now we just want to reduce the stigma around mental illness as a whole,” Ms Waddell said. “The more it is spoken about, the more it gets out there, the more people understand it is not something to be shied away from.”

Participants can nominate the distance they plan to walk, although a challenge exists for those keen to walk 20km with a 20kg pack on their back.

The cost of registration is a self-determined donation to Walking Off the War Within, with all proceeds going to local charities that work in the field of men’s mental health and suicide prevention.

Visit the Walking off the Walk website at walkoffww.com for registration details.

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