The Courier-Mail

Veterans shamed for health concerns


A VETERAN of the war in Afghanista­n has accused the army of treating him like an animal and locking him in a cell after he admitted to serious mental health concerns.

Decorated former Infantry Sergeant Matthew McKeever gave a Senate inquiry into mental health a first-hand account of problems faced by veterans who were labelled “lingers” if they spoke up.

The veteran of two tours told senators in Brisbane yesterday that he killed his first enemy fighter in August 2010 and was then forced to retrieve the body and fingerprin­t it.

When handling enemy bodies his own fingers went through the holes shot in the wrist of an enemy fighter.

In another case he was forced to deal with dead children. “As soon as you speak up you are treated like an animal,” Mr McKeever said. “I was put in a cell … and they (army) try and push you over the limit.”

Afghanista­n veteran Ciaran Hemmings, who served with the 6th Battalion, was told that he was a waste of taxpayer dollars and an “oxygen thief” because he was injured.

In its 50-page submission to the inquiry the Department of Veterans’ Affairs said it spent more than $180 million of its $12 billion annual budget on mental health services.

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