My name is Jason Turner and I have served in the armed forces for 12 years. My family were in it before me, and it just seemed natural that I join too. I was proud to be serving my country. I was deployed in 2004 and then again in 2008 and was promoted to the commissioned officer rank of lieutenant in 2013.
But last year I was diagnosed with HIV as part of a routine medical assessment. What followed was a dull roar of bureaucracy – medical checks, questions, blood tests, doctors, forms, questions, more blood tests, and so it goes on. They didn’t care about my health, or whether I could still do my job (which I certainly could). All they cared about was that I had HIV.
It was not as if there was a risk of transmission of HIV. Before my HIV diagnosis I had already been transferred to an administrative role. But the dangers of sitting behind a desk with HIV seem to outweigh the years of dedication I have given to the force. Now I find myself in in my mid-30s entering the private job-market with limited non-military experience to offer my future employers. All manner of benefits and allowances have been denied or restricted to me because I was discharged on medical grounds.
But more harmful than my uncertain financial situation or lack of work opportunities is the loss of a huge part of my life – just because of my blood. The service is full of wonderful brave and hardworking people, but at some point the defence force failed to protect those that serve them most. That’s why I went to HALC. HALC are representing me in a discrimination complaint. I was wrongly treated, and I would like justice for it.
[all names and information that might identify any individual have been changed for confidentiality purposes]
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