Attitudes affecting treatment seeking
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.