At­ti­tudes af­fect­ing treat­ment seek­ing

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Western Suburbs Weekly -

WA Vet­er­ans Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil chair­man Max Ball says tack­ling vet­er­ans’ home­less­ness is com­plex.

“Al­most ev­ery State has a vet­er­ans’ retreat now, but a lot of younger vet­er­ans are not com­ing to groups like the Viet­nam Vet­er­ans As­so­ci­a­tion or the RSL,” Mr Ball said.

Some mod­ern vet­er­ans have said the Depart­ment of De­fence does not care af­ter they leave the armed ser­vices, while oth­ers have said mil­i­tary cul­ture pre­vents those cur­rently serv­ing from declar­ing men­tal dif­fi­cul­ties.

“That’s not in­ac­cu­rate, but the Depart­ment has an em­ployee-em­ployer re­la­tion­ship with mem­bers of the mil­i­tary, and while some peo­ple may have ex­pec­ta­tions that the Depart­ment of De­fence should do more for the post-ser­vice pe­riod, that pe­riod legally lies with the Depart­ment of Vet­er­ans Af­fairs (DVA),” Mr Ball said.

DVA’s re­cent Viet­nam Vet­er­ans Health Study cited a Bri­tish Min­istry of De­fence rec­om­men­da­tion that no sol­dier should be de­ployed abroad for more than two six­month tours in any three-year pe­riod.

There are 2540 vet­er­ans and cur­rent servicemen from post-1999 con­flicts with post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der (PTSD) who are recog­nised by the DVA, which spends $179 mil­lion each year on men­tal health in­for­ma­tion and sup­port, GPs, psy­chol­o­gists, so­cial work and the Vet­er­ans and Vet­er­ans Fam­i­lies Coun­selling Ser­vice.

A DVA spokes­woman said the depart­ment would pay for treat­ing any di­ag­nosed PTSD, anx­i­ety dis­or­der or al­co­hol and drug abuse, whether from over­seas de­ploy­ment or more than three years ser­vice in peace­time. Home­less­ness af­fected a “very low pro­por­tion” of vet­er­ans, she said.

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