Background. The name Trojan’s Trek has its roots in Greek mythology and the story of Odysseus who was about to depart for the Trojan War. Knowing he would be absent for many years he was concerned about the development and the influences placed on his young son Telemachus. He therefore made Mentor, an old warrior and trusted friend responsible for his son’s development during his absence. The parallel is that wise elders can impart knowledge and experience to young men and women to assist them on their journey.
From the outset it is important to establish that the trek is a trek in name only. The journey is not physical, it is more in the mind than skeletal. The approach taken by the foundation is this is not an extreme event designed to test body and soul, it is the start of a new approach to life; a new way of looking at our existence and the people we love and deal with. Past trekkers have deemed it a stocktake of feelings and behaviour.
The trek staff in particular and the military generally, are aware of problems associated with military induced stress illness among past and current members. Various estimates put the potential number of sufferers at a minimum initial figure of 10% of those exposed to harm. This figure does not take into account subsequent case numbers or the effect on partners and children. Mental health presents a problem for the community generally because of the longevity of the illness. The cost implications are obvious and significant.
Currently there appears to be reluctance by the military to address mental health problems in a ‘whole of service’ manner, but rather take remedial or intervention action at critical times during a member’s service life and after discharge. Because of the stigma associated with mental illness this often results in a lack of early intervention which in turn may produce chronic co-morbid conditions. Sufferers once identified (generally after discharge,) are commonly referred to other disciplines or organizations whose job it is to offer treatment.
Although recent efforts by the Chief of Army to remove the stigma associated with mental illness are seen as a step in the right direction, it will be difficult to change the culture of such a large organization in a short time. It therefore follows that the problems associated with mental health will not vanish overnight.
The Trojan’s trek staff firmly believe that the trek philosophy, combined with the manner of delivery, offers cost effective advantages which are not achieved by other methods of treatment. In addition, because the aim of the trek is to equip members with the tools to help themselves both individually and as a group, the long term costs to the community will be reduced. This is the fundamental philosophy of victim to warrior – veteran helping veteran.