Jess Simmonds

I would love to become a researcher and learn more about the ways that trauma and PTSD develop; impact the brain; the body; and someone’s life. I would also love to learn and develop ways to counsel those who have experienced trauma, so that it doesn’t develop into PTSD.

By Jess Simmonds

Jess and Grumpy

My name is Jess Simmonds. I was awarded the Long Tan Bursary in 2020, to help support me as I study a Bachelor of Psychological Science at James Cook University.

There is a very long history of army service in my family. My mum served for four years and my dad served for 18 years. Dad served as the Australian Chaplain based in Kandahar and Kabul Airfields for 9 months in 2011-12. His father served for 21 years. My mother’s father, who we call Grumpy, served for 41 years and he fought in Vietnam. Grumpy’s uncle was Teddy Sheean, who was recently awarded the Victorian Cross for his heroic sacrifice in World War II on HMAS Armidale. The awarding of the Victorian Cross to Teddy Sheean was a huge honour for our family that we all celebrated. I am very proud of my family and the knowledge that I am related to a true Australian hero. 

However, service doesn’t come without sacrifice. Many members my family suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD.  When my dad got back from Afghanistan, he wasn’t the same dad that had left. I was only 10 at the time and couldn’t understand how being away for 9 months could change my dad so much.

Jess with her dad and sister

We rarely discussed PTSD and trauma when I was a kid. Last year on ANZAC day was the first time that Dad ever told me a story about being in Afghanistan. It wasn’t until I was 18 that my grandfather, Grumpy, showed me a story about something that happened to him in Vietnam. Perhaps that is why I became fascinated by PTSD and went to university to study psychology. I would love to become a researcher and learn more about the ways that trauma and PTSD develop; impact the brain; the body; and someone’s life. I would also love to learn and develop ways to counsel those who have experienced trauma, so that it doesn’t develop into PTSD.

The Long Tan Bursary has been a life saver for me as I study at university. Because of the Coronavirus pandemic all my university courses were transferred online, and my job as a swimming teacher temporarily closed. Yet I was still able to pay my rent with the generous funds from AVCAT. This scholarship was so helpful last year, and will be as I continue studying.

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