Ventia employee Brendan Heaton with his family

Brendan Heaton may have trained as a signals technician, but he clearly has a passion for helping others, and his volunteer role as one of Ventia's Healthy Minds Champions is testament to that. 

"Ventia is the first place I have worked with such a structured program to support employees' mental health," Brendan says. "I put my hand up to participate not long after I started working here, after chatting to Hadi Ishak, another of our champions."

"The training was really valuable and added to the knowledge I gained a couple of years ago when I got accreditation through Mental Health First Aid Australia." 

Joining the army

Brendan joined the army back in 1998, following a stint as an industrial chemist. As his brother was an electrical technician, the communications trade appealed to him.

"I earned my Cert 4 in electronics in Albury Wodonga and then did a Cert 3 in telecommunications," Brendan says. "Following that I spent six years in the Royal Australian Signals Corp, mostly in Darwin in the NT."

Ventia employee Brendan Heaton pictured with his child during his time in the army

Brendan started a family whilst serving in the army. 


Brendan was also posted to East Timor for a seven-month deployment, utilising his skills to maintain and ensure secure satellite connections and a robust comms network for the troops stationed there. 

Transitioning to civilian life

In 2004, Brendan was advised his next posting would be a desk job, so he elected to end his six years of service and transition back to a civilian job. 

Moving to Perth with his wife, an Assistant Director of a childcare centre, and their three kids (now four, with the arrival of a son in 2021), Brendan put his skills in communications to use working for organisations like the European Space Agency, Raytheon, Thales and Naval Ship Management Australia, with a brief stint in construction working for FMG in the Pilbara. 

"During this period, I got my diploma in project management and moved from the more technical, frontline roles into supervision and management, putting my project management skills to use," Brendan says. 

Joining Ventia

Brendan joined Ventia's Defence business in June 2021.

He says as a lot of the companies he worked for had strong veteran employment programs, he was able to see first-hand how veterans like him transitioned to civilian roles, and the kind of mental health support they needed. 

When you're chatting to a veteran, empathy is the most important skill you can utilise.

"Stories from veterans can be very confronting when you haven't experienced what they've been through. Also, when they know they're talking to someone who knows what they're talking about and can really get it, they open up more"  he says.

A purposeful job

Brendan says for veterans like him, the structure of the work, the connection to purpose and the feeling that you are delivering capability to Defence is appealing.

On the flip side, the benefit to Ventia is they get someone who's not just here for the pay cheque, they care about what they do, and they want to deliver capability to the client. 

Importantly for Ventia's veterans, they know there's a mate like Brendan on hand to reach out to for a chat when needed.  

Brendan recently commenced a degree in psychology, wanting to put both his life experience and his compassion for those struggling with their mental health into practice. 

"When I retire from my main job, I plan to work a few hours a week with veterans. It's just another way I can feel like I am giving back."

Learn more on Ventia's Healthy Minds Champion network here.


Veterans' Health Week: 1-9 October 

With around 322 Veterans, 181 Reservists and 139 partners or spouses of Veterans working across our business, we're committed to the employment and ongoing support of ADF veterans and their families, and providing support to them as they transition to civilian life. We launched our Better You initiative across Defence bases in July, and we have a number of Healthy Minds Champions with a Defence background, including Brendan Heaton. 

Supporting the health and wellbeing of veterans, Eat Well (Nutrition) is the key focus for this year's Veterans' Health Week.  For a list of event opportunities in your State or Territory, visit: