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Chat: Michael Lyddiard

Monday, July 4, 2011

Interviewer: Michael, thank you for talking to us tonight, in our live online chat room.

Michael Lyddiard: Thanks to anyone who is interested, I thought the story went well in regards to talking about wounded soldiers.

John asks: How long have you been in the army?

Michael Lyddiard: I've been in the army for 16 years and 1 month.

Nick asks: What made you choose the bomb disposal squad for a career?

Michael Lyddiard: I believed it tested me physically as well as mentally, and the organisation seems to be a bit of a specialist crew.

Robbie asks: Would you recommend the army as a career to others?

Michael Lyddiard: If an individual has the desire to serve their country, yes. At the same time, they need to be aware of their strengths and weaknesses.

sarah4eva asks: Do you consider yourself as a role model?

Michael Lyddiard: No! No I don't, but I try to empower others by improving and developing their beliefs and how people with disabilities should be looked at.

leetay63 asks: What inspires and motivates you?

Michael Lyddiard: The sense of accomplishment, moving forward and helping and empowering others. And society in general.

Jack asks: What support structure is in place for injured veterans who want to pursue a different path like competing in the Paralympics sports?

Michael Lyddiard: They have their Australia Defence Paralympics Sports program that offers contacts and the OOS and the APC through defence personnel. And you also have direct contact to athletics with similar disabilities.

Jeff asks: How are you progressing with your swimming training for the Paralympics?

Michael Lyddiard: My progression right now has slowed due to personal circumstancing, however I'm transition into triathlons as I believe I'll have a better chance at achieve a gold medal in 2016. I also have the inspiration and goal to swim 80km next year.

LadyK71 asks: How have you found the rehabilitation process and do you think the Army has progressed in that area from when you first joined?

Michael Lyddiard: I think the army has progressed from before any incidences that have occurred from previous, and at the same time the rehabilitation has not only helped me, but the family and individuals in work and in society in general.

robert asks: When choosing the defence why the army over the navy and airforce?

Michael Lyddiard: Because I always had the desire to be a combat engineer more so than being a sailor or an airman.

Austin asks: Michael. You are an amazing person , father and athlete. You are a true australian hero. What is the best advice you hope to pass onto your boys?

Michael Lyddiard: Regardless of your circumstances and what you choose, you must choose and accept the consequences and what comes out of your outcome, and move on.

CockyIRR asks: Lydds would you and your family discourage any of your kids from joining the ADF?

Michael Lyddiard: No, I would do the opposite, I would encourage them to do whatever they believe would suit them to achieve the best for them and their desire.

petta asks: I'm a veteran vet daughter and I'm studying disability cert 3 at tafe and I have a disability as well and I think you are amazing. How did you get the strength to move on with life?

Michael Lyddiard: I looked to society, my friends and my family for guidance. Without people to empower me, I don't believe I can be empowered and I hope to pay that back by achieving my future.

leisha asks: how do you explain what has happened to you to your children?

Michael Lyddiard: I chose the job that I loved and I still love where I've made a lot of mates, and I still have a lot of mates. And because of that I've done a lot of great things for people, for various types of various cultures. And I've helped them and improved their quality of life.

sophia asks: About your eyesight; how well do you see in your other eye; and are there any technologies that could help you?

Michael Lyddiard: My left eye with a contact lens and glasses I can see 6/12, in my right eye I see nothing. I can have the possibility of a robotic eye, but that has not been offered to me at this time.

granny_59 asks: Do you feel that we are really making a difference in Afghanistan?

Michael Lyddiard: I believe what we are doing is true, I have witness what we have done and is true. And I believe that we can have a positive outcome towards other people's lives because of what we and other coalition forces are trying to achieve.

megan asks: your wife obviously loves you...do you think there is enough support for families at home waiting and worried about our servicemen?

Michael Lyddiard: My wife loves me very much, but due to my circumstances it has created a lot of frustration and issues. I believe in what the defence and society are doing and have improved on what they've offered, however like always with other charities, more support can always be given to the families.

Tweety asks: Are you involved in mentoring injured veterans, or helping youth with disabilities to learn how to mentally overcome their challenges? I think you'd be excellent...

Michael Lyddiard: I've done a number of public speaking ventures and I endeavour and enjoying, empowering and proving that people with a disabilities are just as equal as anyone without a disability and I hope to try and change people's perspective and have them look at us as children, by being honest.

kazzamays asks: Are Department of Veteran Affairs looking after your ongoing medical into you later years. My dad was WW2 - Middle East than New Guinea and my brother was in Vietnam for 965 days with the Army Training Team so I know what help they get. I am concerned for our younger Veterans?

Michael Lyddiard: DVA and Defence have a strong partnership with trying to improve the rehabilitation of today's wounded solders. DVA in partnership with Defence have given me a great deal of support by paying my way through university, looking after my children and family, and I believe my family and children are the main concern when I think of DVA.

RMGillam asks: Do you really believe you made a "mistake"? You along with all our soldiers risk your life to protect people like me. I have the most respect for you and couldn't thank you enough for what you have done for us. No mistake's, just learning curves!! Are you aware of the difference you are still making to people?

Michael Lyddiard: I'm sorry is a great thing, I continue today and say I've made a mistakes. I do believe from our mistakes we do learn, but because of the people I've hurt, and what I've taken away from my children, I strongly believe that I should have taken the second option.

Shessy asks: You had such a terrible experience at the hands of the Taliban. Do you harbour any grievances towards the country's people now?

Michael Lyddiard: No, everyone has a life and a culture to follow. Everyone believes they try to do the right thing and follow their values. I have no grievances against any individuals or groups, we are all trying to do what we believe is right. We are not God.

iloveumichae asks: Since you have returned home, do you thing you have made a positive impact the your local society?

Michael Lyddiard: I'd like to think so, however the way that people look at me, stare, I don't think I've made a different, or as much of a difference as I would like. And that's why I keep trying to strive and accomplish more, and try to empower people with and without a disability. That's a very good question, I like it.

Deanne asks: Thank you for the insight into a reality of the outcome of modern day war. Do you or would you consider doing motivational speaking? Or do your other priorities take precedence?

Michael Lyddiard: I enjoy motivational speaking, I've had opportunity to try and motivate other people through organisations. Like always, my training, family and university now take priority, but because of who I am, I will always see a need to improve myself as well as others.

paul_ritchie asks: How do you find the relationship working with American soldiers ?

Michael Lyddiard: Like working with my family, it's a compromise.

daniel1987 asks: Do you have a current role in the army at the moment? has the army offered you any training/teaching roles?

Michael Lyddiard: I'm still employed through the army, however I do not as such have a position anymore. I believe I could fulfil an instruction role and would like to, however due to current policy this is not achievable within my field.

iloveumichae asks: Do you plan to write about your story? I feel that it would be a very inspirational story.

Michael Lyddiard: I do plan, but at the same time my story hasn't ended. And I hope people find my story and what my friends and I have to contribute interesting to hear.

Burke_sm asks: I would like to know where you get your amazing sense of patriotism and sense of wanting to serve your country, as I would love to pass this onto my children.....The services is in my family history but my children don't seem to understand?

Michael Lyddiard: I think it would have come from my father who took me to ANZAC day every year. Being with his friends and colleagues that were ex-servicemen and having a good idea of Remembrance Day and what these people gave and scarified. Not only our country, but others as well.

Vanquish asks: Congratulations on all your achievements. It takes an extraordinary person to do a job like that. You are such a strong person. My husband is doing his bit os and I don't care what condition he comes home in, as long as I can hug him and show him in every way that I will always love him. Do you understand that your beautiful wife (and children) would have also felt the same when you were over there??

Michael Lyddiard: I understand my wife and children (or child at the time) are glad to have me home, however the mental anguish that we all faced due to my disability and the physical dexterity issues I have make life difficult at times. But when I was overseas, I had a great understanding and appreciate and love that my family had for me. Which helped me on the battlefield and to get home.

amber asks: My brother has the "guilt" feeling after something that happened on deployment, we don't know how to help him - as he won't talk about it but is hurting, can you please give us any advice on what to do, or how to help him?

Michael Lyddiard: Every individual and circumstance is different. My best recommendation regardless is to be there for him, not only when he wants it but when you think he needs it. He needs family and more importantly (or just as importantly) he needs his mates.

Laylagirrrrl asks: I didn’t quite get the whole news story about you. What exactly happened if you don’t mind me asking?

Michael Lyddiard: In November 2007 I was trying to render safe an explosive device when I came across the first end probe switch that handed my ass to me.

paul_ritchie asks: Your a total inspiration and epitomize the Anzac spirit . I am organising a cycle incorporating Australian & American Military, Fire and police . What are like on a bike ?

Michael Lyddiard: I believe I'm good, with the odd buckle of the wheel due to visual impartment, and it's within my vision for Rio 2016

j.mclagan asks: i am very passionate about joining the army when im the legal age, however my parents are not very keen on the idea, i would like to know what are the positive outcomes of having a career in the army and what sort of an impact it had on you and your lifestyle???

Michael Lyddiard: Your parents know your strengths and weaknesses and they most likely know you better than you know yourself. At the same time, the defence force improved and helped me to develop my belief and values, and have a better understanding of mateship. But just as importantly, I earnt and learnt the meaning of ANZAC and have a better understanding of my mate and mateship.

daniel1987 asks: What do you think is the biggest thing you have learnt about yourself since the accident?

Michael Lyddiard: That's a good question, regardless of where my rehabilitation is , I have my highs and my lows. At the same time, regardless of the way people look at me, I believe that everyone has an appreciate of what I'm going through.

Marc asks: After everything you have been through, and are still going through, do you get annoyed at the youth of today who seems to take everything for granted without understanding what others are doing to make life as easy as it is? You're an inspiration Michael, thanks for letting us into your life.

Michael Lyddiard: One thing I've learnt is the meaning of patience and understanding other people's beliefs and values, but yes I do get annoyed with how people expect things to come to them so easily.

melissa01 asks: Hi, First of all I would like to thank you for sharing your story, I'm sure that your family is very proud of you as the rest of Australia is. My questions is, what have you found the hardest in your rehabilitation, the mental component or the physical and why?

Michael Lyddiard: I would have to say mental, immensely preparing and understanding why I had to leave the defence force after having such a great service, nationally and internationally making a lot of great mates and having them still serve overseas where as I try to live my life through a disability.

LadyK71 asks: Michael - as you are not able to work in your current trade, would you consider a corps transfer, or is that not possible at this stage? What is more important to you - your trade or the Army - or both?

Michael Lyddiard: I believe in core, spirit and country and at the age of 10, I always wanted to believe / service as a combat engineer. To me there is nothing greater than being a combat engineer jack of all trades, therefore I don't think I'd be able to due to my personality serve as a different trade than a combat engineer.

dolphin asks: Greetings Michael. It must be good to be back in Australia. I often wonder about the climate in Afghanistan ... is it as hot and arrid as it seems on tv?

Michael Lyddiard: In Summer it is extremely hot, and in Winter it's very much the opposite, bloody freezing! Ugg boots always come in handy!

leetay63 asks: I feel you have a lot to offer for the students in education. In primary school they study the Anzacs, your story would be inspirational and show that how humans can survive and live (move) on , would you consider something like this?

Michael Lyddiard: Firstly thank you very much, I think children are the wave of our future and I would consider something a long those lines. Also for my children's future.

Robbie asks: What do you see as the future for yourself besides taking out Gold at the paralympics and having a wonderful life with your wife and sons?

Michael Lyddiard: I hope that my life can stay as positive as it seems, at the same time I'm trying and willing to be an occupational therapist where I can improve the life for other people with disabilities or disadvantages.

Nick asks: What do you want to tell others who are thinking of giving up instead of fighting?

Michael Lyddiard: The sense of accomplishment and moving forward always outweighs the desire to give up and to think little of yourself or others but achieving so much, you feel so much greater. And pride.

Interviewer: I am sorry we are out of time, do you have anything else you would like to share before we finish tonight?

Michael Lyddiard: Thank you everyone showing their support to ADF and the wounded soldiers during the story and during this chat. Please keep showing your support to our troops serving overseas.

Interviewer: Once again thank you and goodnight.

Interviewer: This concludes our chat with Michael Lyddiard. Sunday July 3, 2011.

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