Inspiring ex-commando, aspiring Paralympian
Damien Thomlinson is an Australian veteran of the war in Afghanistan, a former member of the elite 2nd Commando Regiment and now an aspiring Paralympian. Like many of his comrades in the armed forces, Damien can accurately be described as a war hero but it is his incredible achievements since leaving the forces that have inspired so many around the world.
In April 2009, while on night patrol in Southern Afghanistan, Damien's unit drove over an improvised Taliban bomb. Damien suffered horrendous injuries in the explosion which resulted in both of his legs being amputated. The damage to his body was so severe that there were many times when his medical team did not think he would pull through.
But they underestimated Damien and his incredible will, not just to survive, but to really live. Today, Damien makes the most of every day to inspire others to triumph over adversity and look forward to the future.
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Most people could not imagine recovering and moving on from something as debilitating as the loss of two limbs but instead of sinking into self-pity and depression and retreating from the world, Damien Thomlinson decided to treat the loss of his legs as another challenge to be overcome.
Damien threw himself into his rehabilitation and set about re-claiming his life, on his terms. With a great deal of commitment and hard work, incredible drive and determination, he taught himself to walk again with state-of-the-art prosthetic legs.
Damien has since undertaken challenges that would more than daunt an able-bodied person, let alone someone with prosthetic legs. He has participated in the TARGA Tasmania classic car rally to raise funds. He has even walked the extraordinarily demanding Kokoda Track - a 96 km trek through the jungles of Papua New Guinea - to remember his best friend Private Scott Palmer, who was tragically killed in a helicopter crash one week before returning home to Australia. Private Palmer's father walked with Damien to honour his son's memory.
Always a keen surfer, Damien took up snowboarding during his rehabilitation and in 2011 competed with four other ADF members in the US Marine Corps Paralympic Trials. In 2012 he declared his next challenge - to represent Australia as a snowboarder in the 2014 Winter Paralympics to be held in Russia.
Today, Damien uses his experiences, passion for life and journey to the Paralympics to inspire and motivate others. He also continues his fundraising initiatives for Legacy, the Commando Welfare Trust and other organisations to raise awareness and funds for injured soldiers and their families.
Damien Thomlinson is an engaging corporate speaker with a powerfully moving personal story, a never-say-die attitude and incredible determination. Audiences around Australian and the world have never failed to be inspired, motivated and moved by him.