Young vets left feeling neglected
cruitment number requirements. We find this possibility very concerning, as once a person is recruited into the ADF it becomes difficult for the ADF to discharge unsuitable members and there is the likelihood that personnel that have been identified as at risk to psychological problems before recruitment could be further exposed to trauma.”
Soldier On chairman and former Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Peter Leahy also submitted a report to the inquiry, emphasising the need for more research.
“It is important that more is done to collect information on what these men and women are struggling with, and how they can be supported in Australia,” he writes.
“We must also remember that each one of these wounded Australians has a family and friends who will also require support while they rehabilitate.
“Psychological and physical wounds can have a prolonged and debilitating effect on the veteran and their family ( as) there is an increased rate of drug and alcohol use and addiction, chronic pain, sleep disturbance, problematic anger, parenting and relationship problems and difficulties transitioning into a workplace.”
A report on the inquiry due February 19, 2016.
Submissions can be made at aph. gov. au.
is WAR veteran Phillip Thompson wants to be the voice for a generation of defence personnel affected by PTSD.
An injured East Timor and Afghanistan war veteran, Mr Thompson is Australia’s youngest RSL pension and welfare officer and represents a younger generation whose mental health problems stemming from deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq and East Timor have been widely ignored.
Mr Thompson said many of Australia’s ex- service organisations ( ESO) were manned by Vietnam veterans who did not wish to change models of operation to suit veterans aged 30 or under.
He believes this lack of cooperation has been the reason why younger veterans refuse to seek help when faced with PTSD or other mental health issues.
“I’ve sent about 20 emails to ESOs about wanting to volunteer with them as a younger veteran but have received only one response back so far, ” he said.
“That’s not good enough. I want to go there. I want to volunteer but it’s like they don’t want us there, which is a bit of a kick in the butt.
“I want to hold the torch for our guys, so that my generation can come in, wherever it is, and feel like it’s not an old boys’ club because that’s how they feel.”
Mr Thompson’s quest to shake up Australia’s mental health support for veterans has been the direct result of his own experience.
Barely 21, the former private deployed to Afghanistan with the 1st Battalion in 2009 when he was injured by an improvised explosive device that left him deaf in one ear and also caused some minor brain damage and memory loss, leading to him suffering chronic PTSD.
While experiencing the impact of an IED is traumatising in itself, Mr Thompson said it was his treatment by his battalion and the wider ADF that caused his PTSD.
“I was left with no support when I got home,” he said.
“I was a 21- year- old kid to put in bluntly who was wounded in action, taken from what I knew as being normal while over there, to getting on a plane and coming home to Australia, being put in a hospi- talta and out again before being toldto ‘ OK, we’ll see you soon’. WhatW did that mean, ‘ see you soon’?so
“So I had no decompression tr training, no one to really help m me deal with my issues – to let me know whether I was doing the right thing or the wrong thing.
“I was drinking a lot, fighting a lot, eating more prescription medication than I probably should have, swapping prescription medication with other wounded – and my now- wife, Jenna, had to put me in hospital as a result.
“I didn’t understand what was happening to me.”
Mr Thompson said he particularly felt let down by his superiors who showed no interest in his mental wellbeing despite his behaviour.
“What I couldn’t understand was how my employer, the place I loved so much and went overseas to lay my life on the line for, felt like they could turn their back on me in a heartbeat,” he said.
“It’s not like there’s a lack of understanding when it comes to PTSD. It was more like the battalion didn’t care.”
Mr Thompson said assistance provided to veterans suffering from PTSD needed a desperate overhaul.
“No one asks us for input, yet they ( politicians) make decisions on how it should be done,” he said. “That is what I’m hoping to change, that’s what I’m fight for.”