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‘I hit rock bottom’: Former Aussie soldier turns to acting to overcome PTSD

‘I hit rock bottom’: Former Aussie soldier turns to acting to overcome PTSD

A former Aussie soldier has hit the silver screen in a bid to leave his battle scars behind and overcome his PTSD.

Peter O’Hanlon was just 19 when he joined the army and despite returning from service over ten years ago, he’s only recently managed to overcome the effects of his time in the force.

Beginning his deployment in East Timor, Peter says the horrors he witnessed followed him far beyond the battlefield.

“I’ll always remember flying into Timor: the ground was covered with debris and as we got closer I saw the hacked up bodies among them,” the former soldier said.

“Seeing that changes you, it robs you of your humanity and passion for life.”


Peter O’Hanlon went from soldier on the ground to soldier on the screen. Photo: Caters

Once home, Peter found himself far from the field but facing a new battle.

“Coming back I was desensitised, I felt a numbness to life and human connection,” the veteran admitted.

Peter spent years wrestling severe depression, anxiety and PTSD; his marriage busted up and he was floundering in normal society, desperate to find a purpose.

“The anxiety was so bad I was could barely leave the house or answer the phone,” he admitted.

It wasn’t until he stumbled across an advertisement for Extra Specialists – a service linking veterans with film work – that things began to turn around.

“Once I got to work I started to feel the spark of life again,” he said.

“I was breaking the victim mentality.”


These days Peter only dons the uniform to play a role Photo: Caters

Now Peter is tackling his mental health head-on. The former soldier boasts 42k Instagram followers, and has already built-up an impressive film resume.

Aside from taking on roles in Godzilla vs. Kong and Dora the Explorer, he’s also stepped back into uniform taking on his first speaking role playing a soldier in sci-fi action movie Occupation Rainfall.

“This has given me an identity and reconnected me to society,” the up and coming actor revealed.

“I’ve got a long way to go but I’m finally starting to feel good again.”


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