AUSTRALIAN Ultimate Fighting Championship contender Damian Brown might have a tough façade, but the man, whose nickname is 'Beatdown', has a much softer side.
The Afghanistan army veteran has had his own struggles with mental health and seen many friends turn to suicide after leaving the service.
This month, the north Brisbane local will take part in Caboolture Anytime Fitness's 24-hour Treadmill Challenge to raise awareness for Suicide Prevention Australia.
"I actually work with (the owner's) partner and they just rang me up and asked if I'd help out. I'm always super keen to raise awareness, especially veterans and mental health,” he said.
"My transition was difficult ... the most difficult part was coming home to my relationships with family and friends and reintegrating myself into that.
"They don't know what to say or to do to support you, and it causes friction and arguments.
"I lost mates over there that were shot, and I've lost guys back here who just couldn't cope ... even to this day, you just never know if you'll wake up to an email or Facebook post and one of your mates are gone.”
Brown, 32, finally achieved his lifelong goal of fighting for the UFC a year ago, and has since gone on to win two out of his four bouts.
His last fight reached more than 700,000 people worldwide and he uses every opportunity in the limelight to mention mental health.
"Whenever I get into a position to reach people it's nice to give a shout out to people suffering,” he said.
"I was in your position, but it's not about thinking about (suicide), it's about thinking about what you want to achieve in life.
"I like to use my position to motivate people to make positive decisions.”
Caboolture Anytime Fitness owner Delyse Brooks and her husband Dale are also ex-military from New Zealand and said she jumped at the opportunity to raise suicide prevention awareness.
"We have a lot of ex-servicemen in our club and veterans in their recovery. We get to see it; we get to hear it and be around it; it's a community issue.
"I actually check up on a couple of them because I come from military background and my father is an ex-Vietnam vet with PTSD, so I've seen how hard it is.”
Call the store on 5428 3049 or visit at the Central Lakes Shopping Village to buy a 30-minute or hour slot for the challenge, which starts on July 28.
If you need to speak with someone about mental health, you can call Lifeline 24 hours on 13 11 14.
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