It is a rare thing to come across a real life hero. The Optimal Speech Pathology Team has had the amazing privilege of watching this fellow become exactly that.

Gary Wilson was one of the survivors of a Blackhawk crash in Afghanistan on 21st of June 2010 that claimed 4 lives and left 11 severely wounded. Gary’s injuries were catastrophic: crushed left foot, broken knee, broken pelvis, broken ribs, broken forearm, broken nose, broken jaw, broken tooth, and, as he likes to put it, a broken brain. Gary sustained a severe traumatic brain injury that left him in a coma for three months and in rehabilitation for three years, quite literally dragging himself from the brink of life and death just as he had when he crawled from the smoking Blackhawk wreckage.

Gary has battled spasticity in his limbs and a severe motor speech disorder. He has embodied the bravery and tenacity of the Digger spirit as he first walked, and later ran, a marathon.

In 2013, he came to the Optimal Speech Pathology Team as he was about to embark on yet another challenge, this time a vocal marathon. Gary has just completed a National Tour with the Sydney Theatre Company in “A Long Way Home,” a moving, confronting account of the lives of return soldiers which has garnered acclaim and standing ovations all over our country. Gary’s involvement with the play, as a person with a voice and motor speech difficulty, is just plain heroic. We’d like to stand and offer our virtual salute to one very brave soldier.

You can read Gary’s full story at the links below or, follow his Facebook page to watch the adventure continue.

Brain Injury Australia would really welcome hearing from any defence force personnel who have sustained a brain injury, often referred to as the “signature injury” of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. For example, during their active service. Please feel free to contact Brain Injury Australia’s Executive Officer, Nick Rushworth at or on (0417) 373 622.

The Australian (Paid subscription required)

Stage Noise

Sydney Morning Herald

Daily Telegraph

(Story contributed by Optimal Speech Pathology)