Army vet fights for her right
Joy’s PTSD claims denied
AUSTRALIAN army veteran Joy O’donohue is searching for answers after being told her Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was not caused by her 32 years of service.
Since retiring in 2014, the 64-year-old Laidley veteran has struggled to leave the house, with sounds, smells or certain people often causing flashbacks of her time in the defence force.
Unable to work, Ms O’donohue has written to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs since 2016, in hope of obtaining a Totally and Permanently Incapacitated Pension.
But two years on, her fight is still ongoing.
The former army sergeant applied on at least three different occasions, which has caused her to relive her traumas.
“The more you write the more you remember and then you’ve got to deal with that on top of what you’re already dealing with,” Ms O’donohue said.
Her last application was completed in her three-month stint in hospital after she attempted suicide.
“After writing it, I really couldn’t come out of that room to associate with anyone,” she said.
With her latest application denied the following month, Ms O’donohue must face a veteran review board in attempt to prove her PTSD was caused by her time in the army.
“It just feels like they think that you’re lying,” she said.
“They send you off to war and .... don’t want to know you when you come back, you’re in the too hard basket.
“For an organisation that’s supposed to look after defence people, it’s a minefield to get through.”
A Department of Veterans’ Affairs spokesperson said veterans who believed their mental health condition was caused by their military service could submit a claim for compensation.
“Veterans may be entitled to additional support and services such as rehabilitation, compensation for loss of income and compensation for permanent impairment,” they said.
But Ms O’donohue is fighting for acknowledgement rather than for the pension.
“It’s compensation to acknowledge that they are responsible for how you are,” she said.
Ms O’donohue said the process was “so bloody exhausting”.
“I feel like an empty shell, I just feel like a dead woman walking,” she said.
“I look all right on the outside but on the inside there’s just nothing.”
POST-WAR BATTLE: Veteran Joy O’donohue with her assistance dog Chicko, who helps her survive.