AROUND 40 civilians from Defence support organisations witnessed the physical and mental rigours of an Army exercise first hand at Shoalwater Bay to help them better understand the soldiers they support in their day-to-day employment.
The visitors included staff from the Department of Veterans Affairs, RSL Queensland, Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation, charities like Mates-for-Mates and Sporting Wheelies as well as representatives from Queensland Police and the Rural Fire Service.
They watched on as 8/9 RAR soldiers assaulted a position well-defended by 6 RAR troops who were role-playing enemy forces, toured the Brigade Maintenance Area where the logistic and health assets are based and were involved in an ambush scenario where their convoy 'hit' an IED and sustained a casualty who needed evacuation.
Commander 7th Brigade Brigadier Anthony Rawlins said the day was a chance to educate the visitors about the reality of Army life.
"There is so much misinformation about what soldiers do, so it's really critical to give that educational piece so they understand the physical and mental stressors of service, particularly in the Army," Brigadier Rawlins said.
"They come out and see the physical privation soldiers go through, the mental and cognitive demands that are on them and the absolute radiating pride that soldiers have in what they do, as well as getting a good sense of when a soldier leaves the service, what that chasm is that they step in to fill."
Participant Jenny Berhoebe from the Department of Veterans Affairs said it was an eye-opening experience.
"Just even picking up the weaponry and feeling the weight and seeing that's what they've been running around with all morning," she said.
"I think more people should participate in something like this as it is really beneficial, it gets you to understand what your clients are going through or have been through."
To help demonstrate medical treatment in the field, the Army enlisted the help of one participant who role-played a casualty.
Anna Dupont from Salerno Law was given a realistic looking compound fracture wound using a mock injury technique called moulage, before acting injured in an IED attack complete with blank-fire and explosives.
"I had so much fun being right there in the field, it was awesome to be right there and hear the guns firing and being right up close with them in the scenario," she said.
Ms Dupont was evacuated from the scene and taken to the treatment team at the Brigade Maintenance Area where the entire group was given a medical demonstration.
"It was a good experience to see how people respond in those situations, work together and see them perform their procedures and their response times," Ms Dupont said.
The visitor day was arranged by Brisbane-based 7th Combat Brigade which is currently in Shoalwater Bay on Exercise Diamond Run.
Over 1600 troops are involved in Diamond Run, which aims to evaluate the foundation war fighting skills of its soldiers and runsfrom 14 October - 8 November.