Army medic: 'Bullying, affair claims left me broken'
A former Australian Army medic has spoken out for the first time about bullying and a "false" accusation of an affair with a doctor that led her to attempt suicide while serving in Afghanistan.
In March 2017, Queensland-born Dani Martin posted a suicide note on Facebook alleging she had been the victim of psychological warfare and extensive bullying before taking an overdose.
The then 23-year-old was found by medical staff and evacuated to Germany where she was treated for nine days before she was returned to Australia to undergo psychiatric treatment.
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Now, the 25-year-old - who had previously deployed to Papua New Guinea and Indonesia - has spoken out for the first time since leaving the Defence Force last year which left her "broken".
"Once I was deployed to Afghanistan it went sour pretty much straight away. Within the first two weeks there were noticeable things like the Sergeant talking quite harshly," Ms Martin said.
Ms Martin said being the junior female seemed to be the reason she was picked on - starting with her identity card being stolen as well as general bullying, with a platoon commander stealing live ammunition from soldiers during training.
"I was called out to a casualty on base and dropped my identity card as I left the office. It was found by the cleaner and then given to the Sergeant," she said.
"My punishment for two weeks was to ring everyone twice a day and remind them to have their identity cards."
She added that things escalated to the point where she was falsely accused of having an inappropriate relationship with her best friend on the deployment who was also a doctor.
"My whole career I had worked to be nothing other than a medic and it was all ruined. The false accusation about an inappropriate relationship with a superior can ruin your entire career," Ms Martin said.
"I felt like my career and life was being flushed down the toilet after that."
This occurred, she said, while she was in a high-stress environment having to treat casualties, including one instance where she had accidentally put her hand into a patient's brain cavity.
The accusation eventually left Ms Martin to attempt suicide and said her resuscitation was like "an act of violence" that left her with such severe PTSD she cannot bear to be touched.
She alleged medical staff used the threat of a urinary catheter to try to force her to tell them what she had taken and likened the experience to being raped.
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The Defence Force conducted an internal inquiry into the circumstances leading up to the incident while Ms Martin, a corporal, was serving on Operation Highroad in the Afghan capital, Kabul.
They admitted to "poor management" after making the accusations of an inappropriate relationship as well as the way the situation was handled when she lost her card.
Ms Martin will feature in a documentary called "Man Down" produced by former Australian Army doctor and Afghan veteran, Dr Daniel Mealey, which will examine the human cost of complex struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder.