Army vet fights for her right

Joy’s PTSD claims de­nied

Gatton Star - - NEWS -

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.”

PHOTO: MEG BOLTON

POST-WAR BAT­TLE: Vet­eran Joy O’dono­hue with her as­sis­tance dog Chicko, who helps her sur­vive.

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