Pushing through the pain

International Day of People with Disability

Even the toughest physical setbacks can’t quell the careers of those passionate about their jobs – especially in Air Force.

CAPTIONFlight Sergeant Nathan King, an Air Force Aircraft Technician from 37 Squadron, at his workstation, RAAF Base Richmond. Story by John Noble. Photo by Leading Aircraftman Chris Tsakisiris.

Flight Sergeant Nathan King, an aircraft technician at RAAF Base Richmond, is thankful Air Force has fully supported his recovery from injury and enabled him to not only thrive in his job, but also compete in high-level sport.

Flight Sergeant King sustained a serious injury during a soccer game in 2017, which led to compartment syndrome and ultimately the loss of two muscles in his left leg.

Never one to run from a challenge, Flight Sergeant King was determined to get back his physical capabilities. With the help of Air Force, he was able to compete in two Invictus Games, in 2022 and in September this year.

“I was in hospital at the start of 2018 when the buzz started about the Sydney Invictus Games,” Flight Sergeant King said.

“I was completing rehab during the Games and it inspired me to look into the sports it offered … [and] put in my EOI for the sports that interested me that I was capable of competing in.

“To top things off, I was also one of the co-captains at this year’s Invictus Games, which was a terrific honour to lead the team and to just be in that company.

“Unfortunately, I won’t be competing in any future Games given there is a limit of two opportunities per person, as we are provided the tools to ‘recover, rehabilitate and reintegrate’. This also provides other members and veterans the opportunity to benefit from the program.

“I am, however, really looking forward to supporting those from Air Force, Army or Navy who’ll be competing in the next Invictus Games and beyond.”

Sport has always been an important part of Flight Sergeant King’s life, and being involved in sport helped him re-focus his normal training to assist his rehabilitation.

He said it has also allowed him to meet a range of inspirational people that he otherwise wouldn’t have.

“From six months in hospital and a further seven months in a rehab facility, I was supported from my whole chain of command at 35 Squadron and Air Mobility Group to just ‘get better’,” he said.

“I came into 37 Squadron for stability in location and care where, with this ongoing support, I transitioned from three days per week to full time.

“I was provided with desk-based roles in the Integrated Planning Cell and Safety before being promoted to Flight Sergeant after three years, where I have been able to maintain employment through the reduced MEC [Medical Employment Classification] status. I am a maintenance section head this year and have been able to assist on a 37 Squadron domestic task supporting maintenance.

“The overall support I have been given to not only recover but literally get back on my feet and continue my career with the RAAF has been immeasurable.”

Flight Sergeant King remains a symbol of resilience this International Day of People with Disability on December 3. For further information see idpwd.com.au


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