Around 1997 Gail established and ran a support group, for partners of Veterans. Further to that, she decided to study psychology to gain insight into problems of families of veterans that she was encountering on a regular basis. She attained a Bachelor of Psychology (Honours), and completed her PhD (Psychology) researching the psychosocial well- being of partners of Australian combat veterans. She believes that there is a significant interaction between the well- being of the partners/family and health outcomes for the Veterans.
Mrs MacDonell is a registered nurse specialising in Emergency and Intensive Care, and is a lecturer and tutor at the University of New England on a casual basis. Gail is a Founding member of the Partners of Veterans Association of Australia Inc. and is their first life member. She received an Order of Australia Medal in 2011 for her work with past and present Military families.
The Australian Families of the Military Research Foundation (AFOM) has grown out of work accomplished by her over the past 15 years. She would like to see AFOM become the foremost organisation in Australia; researching the health and wellbeing of Military Families and assisting Military family members with higher education in this field. The strategic plan gives Gail hope that the Foundation will be a legacy that will be preserved well into the future, by young, dedicated Military Family members.