Carole Doyle understands the psychological effects of war on returned servicemen and their partners. For years she’s made it her mission to help the partners of veterans, receiving an Anzac of the Year Award in 2014 for her work.

In 1966 Carole was a teenager. She loved The Beatles and could turn her hand to anything creative – cake decorating and floristry were among her passions. That year she met Joe Doyle, a young Irishman with beautiful blue eyes who sang in a band. He had been called up for national service and in 1967, Joe was sent to Vietnam. She has a box full of letters he sent her during the two years he was away.

They married when he came back but something was different about him. He couldn’t work indoors and didn’t like crowds. Carole struggled to get Joe diagnosed and when visiting the Vietnam Veterans Counselling Service it all clicked. Joe was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a condition not well understood at the time.

Carole set out to raise awareness about PTSD. She helped establish the Melton branch of Partners of Veterans and was also Victorian vice president for a number of years. She is also the Victorian ambassador for the Dogs for Young Diggers initiative – providing assistance dogs to returned servicemen with PTSD. The dogs give the young diggers comfort and help them get out into their community.

Now Carole says Joe is happy, and very much a part of the local men’s shed. His blue eyes are sparkling again.

These stories celebrate the contributions and diversity of people who are part of the Victorian Seniors Festival.