The War that we Need to Win

Today on ANZAC Day Australia remembers those who die, and serve, to protect the freedoms which have made our country great. We remember every son, daughter, mother, father, husband, wife… Each fallen hero represents a hole that was made in the intricate web of society.

I think especially of those haunted by the horrors of war, or those for whom the pang of loss are still fresh, deep and treacherous. Thank you for your service or the service of your loved ones. Thank you for paying all that it cost. May we always remember and honour them, the living and the dead, always. May we remember those they left behind, and do our best to ensure that as we were protected, so we protect. As they kept our families safe, may we do likewise.

It’s time that Australia wins a war, the silent war of attrition against returning veterans. More resources need to be put into medical provision.

In 2016 the former Chief of Army Peter Leahy said,

“The number of suicides and the incidence of despair, depression and broken lives among our veteran community is a national shame.”

A recent study by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that 80% found that 80% of current ADF members described their experience of those [suicide] services as fair, good, very good or excellent. (Note current members; the suicide rate for former members is 13% higher). Note also that means 20% of the survey respondents found it less than fair.

We should not ask so much of our men and women, and then penny-pinch to stop them getting the help they need. We should not ask them to brutalise their minds and bodies, and then expect them to jump through hoops to get the medical support they need.

I am all for budget-repair as a priority, but let’s not take the money off of those who have earned it. Find some other lower hanging fruit, there’s plenty out there.

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