The RSL has called on the Federal Government to guarantee lifelong, quality healthcare for Australians who choose to stand and defend our country.
RSL National President Rod White said it was time for a united effort to understand and look after the mental health and wellbeing of current and ex-serving Defence personnel.
“We must not, cannot lose any more veterans to suicide,” Mr White said.
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The call is a response to a News Corp inquiry which found 41 military personnel and veterans took their own lives this year, equalling the number of Australians killed in Afghanistan during 13 years of war.
“Our veterans and their families deserve the very best support available and it’s time the government coordinated a united approach to give them that.
“Frustratingly, we don’t even know the size of this terrible tragedy – there is no register of service and ex-service suicides.”
Mr White said RSL Branches and sub-Branches across the country are offering new ways to support those who have served.
“For example, the RSL in Queensland is funding world first research into PTSD by the Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation. It also coordinated a national PTSD forum last year, bringing together 450 local and international experts who created an action plan for better PTSD care in Australia.
“The RSL in South Australia has launched a reintegration program called RSL Active, which provides a range of activities and services to help all veterans and their families engage with their communities and have productive working lives.
“And RSL Young Veterans in Victoria is a dynamic community of veterans aged under-60 providing friendship, support and understanding for those leaving Defence.
“In New South Wales, RSL LifeCare provides no- or low-cost housing for dozens of young veterans under the Homes for Heroes program, which is supported by RSL NSW and local service clubs.
“And RSL DefenceCare has an incredible track record for helping thousands of service men and women throughout their lives whenever they are doing it tough.”
Mr White said veterans young and old didn’t have to look far to find help from the RSL’s national network.
“What is needed now from Government is a proactive and collective focus on providing emotional and physical support to Defence personnel well before they transition out of service and run the risk of feeling isolated or disenfranchised,” he said.
Earlier this year the RSL proposed a new plan to improve Australia’s veterans’ support system including:
*Implement a ‘through-life’ care model for former ADF members.
*Set up a national database of GPs with military health training, accessible to veterans.
*Expand the list of conditions for which veterans receive free treatment.
*Re-establish a permanent Centre for Military and Veteran Health.
If you need to talk you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14.