Back in April 15 2014, Nathan “The Mule” Shanahan started his 400km walk carrying 25kg to raise money and awareness for his chosen charity Soldier On. He was Walking Off HIS War Within. Nathan lost his war on December 22nd 2016. He leaves behind his wife Kosha and 2 beautiful children. He was 39 years old.
The commemorative service for Nathan was held in Ballarat near his High School. The service was moved to a nearby convention centre as the realisation of the volume of people that were attending rapidly grew. People came from far and wide across the country filling the centre to capacity.
People sat in the aisles and the biggest soldiers cried while his eldest daughter (Lila 9yo) took the microphone and addressed an enormous crowd through her own grief to tell everyone how much she loved her Dad.
Four months later, 22 April 2017, over 2500 people around Australia joined to commemorate Nathan’s challenge and keep the message going.
Northern Territory firefighters invited the community in Alice Springs, Yulara and Darwin to walk with them and contribute to the memory of Nathan Shanahan and his efforts to raise awareness of PTSD and Depression. Participants carried a weight to represent the burden of depression.
Norforce, Police, Firefighters and NT Emergency Service volunteers walked with their colleagues and invited anyone willing to share the burden to show their support through their efforts; and in communities across Australia thousands of people stepped off and shared a small part of Nathan’s pain.
To many of the crews from the NTFRS, CFA and Defence, this event was a way to support each other and acknowledge the efforts of our mate who will never be forgotten.
Senior Firefighter Matthew Jenkins organised a plaque to Nathan “The Mule” Shanahan to be placed in the Alice Springs Fire Station gym in memory of the many hours he spent owning each and every piece of equipment there.
His was the strength everyone aspired to. His favourite poem is scattered throughout the Alice Springs Fire Station. “The Man In The Glass” speaks to the Nathan’s battle.
Depression is an insidious disease which effects a high percentage of front line responders, both civilian and military. It is a burden that is best shared, but is often covered by the strength of those suffering. Nathan lost his battle on 22nd December 2016. His physical strength and courage was unbeatable, but his strength wasn’t enough to win the battle within.
Walking Off The War Within is a chance for the community to share the burden. The event will run each year in the lead up top ANZAC Day as was Nathan’s challenge. We hope that this event will continue to grow.
- Keith Hutton,
Fire Fighter and Union Delegate