Joining the military in his late 20’s, Matt Campbell completed his RAAC initial employment training at Puckapunyal, Victoria and was then posted to Darwin to become a crew member of a Main Battle Tank. Being a bush kid and having extensive experience with a wide range of heavy vehicles he found life in a tank quite easy and enjoyable. Who wouldn’t enjoy throwing 62 tonnes of steel around through the bush. Rising from being a driver to being trained as a gunner and the eventual goal of commanding a tank, all roles well suited to a hard working career soldier. He spent about 7 years at 1st Armoured Regiment, C SQN before being posted to the Australian Federation Guard in Canberra.
Eventually being trained on the Army’s 8 wheeled armoured vehicle the ASLAV as well as the Bushmaster, another lightly armoured vehicle in the Army’s armoured vehicle fleet, he was posted to the 2nd Cavalry Regiment as an ASLAV crew commander. Deploying as such in 2009/2010 to Afghanistan as part of Operation SLIPPER. During the deployment he filled the role of a mounted patrol 2IC as well as commanding his own ASLAV gun car. Upon returning to Australia he was posted to Townsville to B SQN 3/4th Cavalry regiment as a troop corporal. Deploying again to Afghanistan this time as a section commander of 4 bushmasters. On this deployment Matt was injured and medically evacuated back to Australia.
Struggling with injuries and the fact his section was still overseas and in harms way daily, Matt found difficulty coping with everyday life at home. Having another one of his crew commanders also badly injured and evacuated back to Australia and losing a friend through an 'insider attack' saw Matt sink further and further into intolerance and anger. Eventually speaking to a medical professional about his behaviour and feelings, Matt was diagnosed with PTSD and commenced treatment. One of the things Matt was prescribed was to attend a local based PTSD course run by the Mater Hospital. Throughout the 8 week course he came to understand and worked hard at dealing with his demons. With the help of his wife and the course facilitators, he developed a bond and belonging. Having such a profound effect on Matt he then wanted to give back as much as he could to the course that saved him. He starting his volunteer work about 6 months after completing the course.
Matt started the idea of 'Hounds 4 Healing' during this time. Having been given a small ball of fluff, a border collie puppy as a gift shortly after getting back to Australia, he recognised the bond between man and dog first hand, through the training of his own dog. Bobby, his border collie became his lighthouse in the storm of emotions generated with everyday life and was his shadow, knowing when he was struggling and having a bad day. Always ready with a cuddle she has taught herself some of the skills associated with an assistance dog. Matt recognised there was no assistance dog programs in Townsville. He approached other veterans with the idea beginning a program and was encouraged to run with it. Hounds 4 Healing was born.
After successfully operating for five years, Matt recognised the burden of running the successful H4H non-profit organisation detracted from the work of he loved of matching and training dogs and veterans. In February 2020 H4H folded into The Oasis Townsville as a Special Program.