<div>‘Indescribable honour’ for Aussie veteran who lost both his legs in Afghanistan</div>

‘Indescribable honour’ for Aussie veteran who lost both his legs in Afghanistan

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Damien Thomlinson’s journey has been far from easy but he takes every step of it in his stride.

“You’ve just got to accept the fact you’re always going to learn something each day and you’re going to have to work hard,” he told 9News.

The former Commando’s life changed forever at just 28 years of age.

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Damien Thomlinson

He was on night patrol in Afghanistan in 2009, when his unit drove over an improvised Taliban bomb, suffering severe injuries.

“At that stage it looked like I was going to be a triple amputee but luckily doctors worked their magic and saved the arm,” he reflected.

Since the war, Thomlinson has fought many more battles.

He learned to walk again with two prosthetic legs and eventually took on the gruelling Kokoda track – a mission in memory of his mate, Private Scott Palmer, who died in a chopper crash one week before returning home.

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Afghanistan Veteran

Speaking about his challenges to 9News, Thomlinson is both positive and proud.

“Mine, while they seem big in one photo are literally insignificant compared to someone who has lost a child, families who’ve lost husbands, or wives, or suicide when they’ve returned home… it literally pales in comparison.”

“It’s the way you look at it. I think I’ve been so fortunate I’ve got to live a life.”

The ex-special forces soldier is now making history, as the first veteran to walk the new parade ground at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

He called the opportunity to stand on the sacred ground of Australian soldiers an “indescribable honour”.

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Afghanistan Veteran

The Australian War Memorial has also selected Thomlinson to deliver the commemorative address this ANZAC Day, in a bid to inspire more veterans to get involved and on the national stage.

He will be the first non-government figure to do so, giving contemporary veterans a voice.

“I hope when people walk away from it they can say I’m proud to live in Australia,” Thomlinson said.

“We can all just take that moment to be grateful for what we have and then respect the challenges that people faced to make that happen.”

Director of the Australian War Memorial Matt Anderson personally extended the invitation.

“He represents the current veteran,” Anderson told 9News.

Afghanistan Veteran

“He represents the 100,000 veterans we’ve created in the last forty years. He served in our longest war.

“He was badly wounded and clearly he came home stronger as a result of it.

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“That’s what this place is all about. It’s about giving meaning to all those who have served.”

Thomlinson hopes his story will help strengthen more soldiers to share theirs too.

“There was a previous era where repressing our feelings and emotions was the way people dealt with it,” he said.

“We’ve learned in the last fifteen years it’s ok for men to cry.”

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