NAMBUCCA Heads has always been home to a wide array of people from different backgrounds, but in the last few years, an increasing number of younger veterans have started calling the area home.
Recent arrival Matt Campbell spent over 20 years in the army and was deployed all around the world, but he is confident Nambucca Heads will be home for many years to come.
"My son had been to seven schools during my career; I promised him once he hit high school, we would stay in one place so he could complete his schooling without having to move again," he said.
"The area is awesome; we're never leaving; I've already started putting down roots and trying to give back by joining the local Marine Rescue.
"I'm up with the sun every morning, and I use that time to take photos, mostly of coastal landscapes.
"My goal at the moment is to become a professional photographer, it's still early days, but I've had a bit of success getting photos published."
People spend their whole lives training to represent their countries, and I got to do that every single day for the last 20 years...- Matt Campbell
Originally from the south coast of NSW, the now 48 year old Campbell had a relatively late start in the ADF.
Despite having a brother in the air force and a father in the navy, he initially had no aspirations to follow in their footsteps but a chance encounter with a Vietnam veteran changed the course of his life forever.
"Before joining the army, I knew the important dates, remembrance day, Anzac Day but I wouldn't say I was overly patriotic," Matt said.
"Then one day, a Vietnam veteran I knew was telling me about the job security and peace of mind that the ADF provides.
"At the time I was a subcontractor, and the GST had just come in, it was hard to make ends meet.
"So at 27, I got this idea in my head to join; I didn't have any pre-conceived notions beforehand; I enlisted to provide for my family."
During basic training, Matt says it became clear that he had found his calling in life.
While he was a bit older than most of the other recruits, his age proved to be an asset rather than a hindrance.
"I was a bit older than your average recruit, so I already had a lot more life experience; I excelled throughout training, winning quite a few awards," he said.
"I loved every second of my time in the ADF; when you put that uniform on and see the Australian flag on your shoulder, it's the best feeling in the world; there is nothing quite like it.
I'd be learning how to use a rocket launcher, and they'd be complaining about how hard computer spreadsheets are to use- Matt Campbell
"People spend their whole lives training to represent their countries and I got to do that every single day for the last 20 years, I would go back in a heartbeat if the need arose."
Rising to the rank of sergeant, Matt was deployed all over Australia, Darwin, Townsville, Brisbane, Sydney, Armidale and Coffs harbour.
He also saw deployment overseas, including over four years in warzones in East Timor, the Solomon Islands and Afghanistan.
He saw some of the best and worst humanity had to offer, but he says the most significant takeaway from the experience was the friendships he made along the way.
"In my opinion, the best part of being in the ADF was the comradery," Matt said.
"You go through such an intense experience with basic training, and then when you are deployed.... you form lifelong bonds.
"I've found it's a lot harder to make connections with civilians, just because they haven't had the same experiences as us, so it's tough to relate.
There are always other veterans in the community who know what you're going through, become part of a sporting club, join local community groups, eventually you will meet other veterans.- Matt Campbell
"I'd be learning how to use a rocket launcher, and they'd be complaining about how hard computer spreadsheets are to use.
"That's why it's important for veterans to stick together, even though it might be awkward sometimes, if you are a veteran and you're having trouble adjusting to life outside the ADF, reach out.
"There are always other veterans in the community who know what you're going through, become part of a sporting club, join local community groups, eventually you will meet other veterans."
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