SIX years since Daniel Parker returned from Afghanistan, his memories of war are still vivid.

He was just 17-years-old when he joined the army as a Combat Engineer before he served in Timor Leste in 2010 and Afghanistan from 2011-2012.

"Serving in East Timor was a bit more of a feel-good mission," Mr Parker said.

"We rebuilt orphanages and schools and were doing jobs that make you feel warm and fuzzy.

Toogoom RSL & District Sub-Branch president and veteran Daniel Parker - Dawn service, Anzac Day 2018.
Toogoom RSL & District Sub-Branch president and veteran Daniel Parker - Dawn service, Anzac Day 2018. Inge Hansen

But his Afghanistan missions were much different.

"I was a Search Team Commander where I had a team of five under me and I was doing route clearance," he said.

"I would do a route search for about 80-120 people and make sure they got from point A to point B safely."

During his term in the Army, Mr Parker suffered a number of physical and mental injuries including post-traumatic stress disorder with triggers including car backfires and gunshots.

His conditions lead to his discharge from the Army in 2012.

Mr Parker, who is now president of the Toogoom RSL & District Sub-Branch, was one of more than 100 people who attended the Toogoom dawn service on Anzac Day.

Having lost many friends, the day was "sombre and sad" for the now 28-year-old father of two.

"I've had a lot of good mates take their lives due to PTSD," he said.

"It's good to have mates around that know (what's happening) rather than being at home and drinking."

Mr Parker also competed in the 2017 Invictus Games which he said put him on a better path to improving his health.

Last year, he competed in athletics where he won Gold in the 100m and Silver in the 200m as well as wheelchair rugby.

He will again compete in this year's Invictus Games athletics in October.

"Last year was all about me finding my feet because I was a bit of a hermit crab and didn't like leaving my house due to the PTSD," he said.

"This year I'm going to use the opportunity to be a mentor for people who are coming through and help them find their feet."

Mr Parker said anyone who was in need of support could contact him directly on Facebook.


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