Chief takes PTSD stand

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - LY­DIA KELLNER ly­dia. kellner@ news. com. au

AUS­TRALIAN De­fence Force chief Mark Bin­skin has been ap­plauded for his stance on men­tal health is­sues fac­ing for­mer and cur­rent mil­i­tary per­son­nel.

Dur­ing a speech to the Or­der of Aus­tralia As­so­ci­a­tion on Mon­day, Air Chief Mar­shal Bin­skin called on Aus­tralians to change their think­ing when it came to post- trau­matic stress dis­or­der and ac­cept there was no shame for mil­i­tary and emer­gency ser­vices per­son­nel to seek help for men­tal health is­sues.

“There is no shame in seek­ing help and, un­til we as a com­mu­nity change our think­ing to ac­cept and ac­knowl­edge that, even the best men­tal health treat­ment pro­grams in the world will fail be­cause this is an is­sue for our na­tion, not just those we rely on to pro­tect us,” he said.

As a vet­eran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Air Chief Mar­shal Bin­skin said he knew only too well the im­pact war had on vet­er­ans and promised first- class men­tal health care for ev­ery per­son serv­ing un­der his com­mand.

“Ex­treme fa­tigue and stress com­bined with sus­tained at­tack or threat can have a dra­matic ef­fect on a per­son’s men­tal health and over­all well- be­ing,” he said. “We have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to con­tinue our re­search ( into men­tal health) while im­ple­ment­ing the lessons learnt from pre­vi­ous con­flicts and oper­a­tions.”

Mates4Mates am­bas­sador and war vet­eran Paul War­ren said Air Chief Mar­shal Bin­skin’s blunt as­sess­ment of the is­sue had been wel­comed by the vet­er­ans com­mu­nity but re­mov­ing the stigma as­so­ci­ated with PTSD re­quired more than just talk.

“They’ve got to start on ground level if they want to tackle this is­sue in­stead of just talk about it,” Mr War­ren said.

“Dur­ing the post- de­ploy­ment de­com­pres­sion phase, that’s where they need to speak about these is­sues and ad­vise peo­ple where they can get help.

“A lot of PTSD isn’t ini­tial fol­low­ing an in­ci­dent. For most, PTSD symp­toms don’t sur­face for months, even years, so when it does, mem­bers of­ten feel ashamed and try to ig­nore it.”

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