Robert Milton

Robert Milton is coming to terms with post traumatic stress disorder with the help of art, and he is now helping others by using the same therapy.

He is currently running an art class for Vietnam veterans and their partners.

“We meet on a regular basis in the RSL Men’s Shed. We use all sorts of mediums and often paint outdoors.

“Painting is a meditative process and extremely healing,“ Mr Milton said.   

After serving with the Scots Guards for 22 years and competing 11 operational tours, he then transferred into the Australian Army as an Instructor.

Upon leaving, due to his sustained injuries, he became a forensic photographer for the Department of Transport and was also embedded with the Victoria Police.

Not the best job in the world if you’re trying to recover from PTSD.

He would investigate accidents and suicides on the railway. In one year, he attended 167 deaths within Victoria, 45 of which were under the age of 18.

Mr Milton, 52, has been married to Allison for 29 years.  They have two children, Connor, 15 and Poppy, who is 12.

Mr Milton would like to spread awareness of PTSD, to not only the general public but to people who can financially support various PTSD charities.

More importantly he believes there are many people who suffer from PTSD and are unaware of the condition.

Mr Milton was recently a guest speaker at an event, talking about the importance of art and PTSD when a person in the audience continuously asked him questions about the symptoms.

He realised that he had made him aware of his own symptoms, and they had a conversation later that evening.

“The man felt relieved that he was not the only one feeling like this,” Mr Milton said.

“He was hopeful that there was help out there.”

Mr Milton was diagnosed later in life, so he had PTSD for a number of years before becoming aware of his symptoms.

Mr Milton is on the committee for the Euroa PTSD Wellness Centre for Strathbogie shire. He consequently went to Canberra to lobby ministers about helping veterans with PTSD.

The group managed to secure $50,000 to pay for a visibility study by the Veterans Minister.

“Meditation can help people who suffer with anxiety, stress or depression,” Mr Milton said

“In my case it is very quickly replaced by what I refer to as daymares.

Daymares, are moments of reliving extreme situations that I experienced during traumatic times. Whether serving as a soldier or as a forensic photographer.

Mr Milton said the daymares are extremely frightening and as realistic as the original events itself.

“I have tried to keep my mind busy, by continuously working. Which of course, is unsustainable and exhausting. This then adds to the anxiety and depression,” he said.

“I discovered art as a therapeutic method of relaxing the mind when I was commissioned to do a painting. I found that my anxiety levels dropped considerably and the daymares decreased.

“When I was approached by the RSL to paint with Veteran soldiers and their spouses, I jumped at the chance. I have since enjoyed teaching art and also producing commissions.”

Mr Milton said he will continue to teach art and hold exhibitions.

“I am looking to write a book about my journey of discovery of art and PTSD, which will include my paintings,” he said.