When Rosie Barnes is not working as a Nurse Consultant at the Jamie Larcombe Centre based at Glenside, she is an Army Reservist at Keswick Barracks.
PTE Barnes says she always wanted to join the Army but first chose to study a nursing and public health double degree in Melbourne and follow her passion for mental health nursing in public health.
“I was always passionate about mental health and very interested in how broader public policy and programs can help shape the health of large populations, so I decided to study nursing and public health at university,” PTE Barnes said.
“I decided to start my career as a Registered Nurse in public mental health working with adults, then moved into adolescent mental health before working with adults again in the not for profit private sector. There I had the opportunity to work in leadership roles, provide education to nurses and commence my master’s degree.”
PTE Barnes said as she began to feel stable in her civilian career, she decided it was time to again explore the idea of military service and signed up to the Army Reserves.
“I have a strong family history of military service with my Mum, Uncle, Grandmother and Grandfather serving with the British Army and Royal Air Force respectively and so I knew joining the Army was something I always wanted to do,” she said.
PTE Barnes is currently a Command Support Clerk in 3rd Health Support Battalion at Keswick and said she has no regrets about taking on a role totally different to that of her civilian career. This role involves general soldier duties, providing administrative advice and support with regards to policy and pay as well as personnel and operational document management.
“In hindsight not commencing my Army career earlier was a great thing because it meant I could explore my passion for mental health nursing and then become a solider like I had always wanted.
“As much as I love being a nurse, I am glad I have been able to do something totally different and develop other skills as an Army Reservist.
“Being an Army Reservist means I have friends and connections all over the country. When I moved to Adelaide with my full-time Army partner in 2019, I was able to easily form a friendship and support network.
“Originally when I moved I did not have a civilian job or know anyone in Adelaide and reserves helped me by giving me hours to work, new friendships and support through my new unit”.
Whilst not all of the technical skills used in her reserve role are immediately transferable, PTE Barnes said it is the soft skills she uses daily when working with people.
“With my family connection to military service I have always been interested in Veterans health. Now having progressed through soldier training and working as an Army Reservist I have a deeper appreciation for the experiences of those with a military history and the impact that serving can have on a person’s mental health, let alone being deployed in a war-like environment.”
It was this passion for supporting Veterans and current serving members that led PTE Barnes to her current role at The Jamie Larcombe Centre, a purpose-built state-wide service supporting Veterans mental health.
“I feel like this is where I was meant to be, combining my leadership, education and mental health nursing skills with my commitment to Veterans mental health. The experience of the team here is incredible, and it has been amazing to share a common goal and work together to support our Veterans. We also work closely with the ADF to support currently serving members.
“On a day to day basis it is hard to compare what I do as a Reservist working in human resources at the central hub of an Army unit, to my life as a nurse.”
PTE Barnes said juggling her nursing career as well as her duties as a Reservist can be challenging but the rewards of military service far outweighs the costs.
“I was still completing my Masters in Mental Health Nursing degree while I was doing my Army reserve training so that was a bit of a challenge.
“I remember being out field on an exercise and doing my assignments at night under the red light of my head-torch– it was certainly memorable!
“Even though we have civilian jobs you never stop being an Army Reservist and I know that whatever time and effort I put into my role I will always get more in return.”
As well as being a nurse and an Army Reservist, in her spare time PTE Barnes volunteers with the Coast Guard, loves being out on the water sailing and has more plans to study.
“My master’s degree really fuelled my passion for research and now I am exploring ways I can continue my learning by doing a PhD to further support Veterans mental health.”
Miss Barnes’ story is part of an ongoing story telling series by Veterans SA. To read more stories of how those with military experience living in South Australia are contributing to our community click here.
If you are concerned about the health or wellbeing of yourself of a loved one, seek support and information by accessing one of the services at this link.