Homeless vets living at beach
HOMELESS veterans are living in their cars at beach carparks throughout Perth to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), addiction or family breakdown, from the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars where at least 67,000 Australians have now served.
“I know in the past 2-3 months of at least a dozen guys who are sleeping in their cars near beaches in the metropolitan area, or have gone to the regions,” Soldier On WA manager Daniel Fogarty said.
Mr Fogarty, a former Army medic who served in Timor, visits the men for the 2012-established charity that fills mental health, financial and work gaps created by delayed reactions to armed service.
“It’s a combination of the beach providing some ‘peace and quiet’ and it also being a place of last resort,” he said.
Fremantle, western and northern suburbs’ beaches are favoured locations.
“Some have just got to the end of the line where they’ve lost their job, the money has dried up and there’s been relationship breakdowns,” Mr Fogarty said.
In 2008, before most soldiers returned from recent Middle East wars, it was estimated up to 3000 veterans of all conflicts were homeless across Australia each night.
A former combat engineer in his early 30s who did two Afghanistan War deployments has now lived in his car beside western suburbs’ beaches for five months.
“He came back and said he was a changed person, increased his alcohol intake, got angry, lashed out, and his relationship with his family broke down,” Mr Fogarty said.
Soldier On has connected the former engineer with the RSL, Legacy and other ex-service organisations.
Mr Fogarty said while apprecia- tive, the soldier was more concerned to point him to others in a worse situation.
Mr Fogarty said $300 million for national mental health care, announced by Federal Government last week, could have an effect if it reached the departments of Veteran’s Affairs or Defence responsible for ex-soldiers’ mental care.
Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service: 1800 011 046.