Wattle on green attacks

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Australian governments are deliberately contributing to the deaths, suicide, homelessness, domestic violence and mental illness of Australian Defence Veterans — both young and old.

These sustained and bureaucratically controlled 'Wattle on Green' attacks are as treacherous to Diggers on home turf, as the infamous 'Green on Blue' attacks on Coalition forces in the Middle and Wider East.

Time and again, in rapid fire betrayal, pensioner veterans have been promised paltry pension increases and time and again in our name, they have been publicly humiliated and their begging bowls filled with soiled matter and rotting promissory notes.

Worthless IOUs for risking stepping on IEDs

We might as well bury alive our returned service personnel.

Wednesday morning's gut-wrenching report by Ashley Hall on the ABC's AM program is a shameful indictment on how Australia treats its returned soldiers with blatant contempt.

It makes a mockery of the political expediency and duplicitous hollow words of successive political leaders who deliver sonorous and patriotic eulogies on the likes of ANZAC Day, during Turkish dawns and over the flag-draped coffins of those killed in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, whilst basking in the stolen heroic glories of those who lay down their lives for this country in squalid wars mounted upon squalid lies.

Afghanistan War veteran Geoff Evans, now working with the Returned and Services League, RSL's LifeCare told Hall that Australian diggers were suffering from epidemic rates of homelessness, with some of them sleeping with their families in cars.

What's wrong with this picture? Everything.

What are we doing to our veteran brothers and sisters? Killing them. With gross and criminal negligence; cruel and unnatural punishment, a lack of duty of care and most certainly, no sense of responsibility.

The RSL's LifeCare was started in 1911, three years before The Great War that was supposed to be the war to end all wars — such are promises.

Evans, who has been working with younger returning servicemen and women, said that although he had placed 21 returnees at LifeCare's Narrabeen accommodation site, the need was much greater.

In 2008, when the last report into veterans who were potentially homeless was published, there was over 3,000 veterans living on the street on any given night.

So since then if you look at the tempo of operations of the ADF you could reasonably expect that to be much higher. We've put 40,000 or 50,000 troops through Iraq, Afghanistan and other conflict zones.

We're not just talking about veterans, we're talking about families of veterans, so we've got women and children sleeping in cars.

He said a lot of parallels could be drawn with Vietnam:

...There's a lot of parallels we can draw here with the Vietnam generation because everyone in Australia knows what happened to Vietnam veterans.

If you look at mental health, suicide and alcoholism - including in their families - well we're seeing that play out again in my generation.

We must not capitulate to the will of successive governments and ignore our older veterans in favour of younger veterans.

Both groups must be treated as the first among equals.

Just as there is no space for a generation gap amongst the dead, none must be allowed amongst the living.

I urge everyone to stand shoulder to shoulder on this.

Post-traumatic stress is an insidious and parasitic worm that can, if left unchecked, entirely consume the body, mind and soul of its host.

Because some of our diggers are older, does not mean that their illnesses and horrible predicaments are less real or less worthy than those of younger diggers.

It is clear that successive governments are holding off on compensating older diggers in the hope they will die off and thus avoid any payouts of illnesses contracted through exposure to Agent Orange and other poisonous toxins — as well as giving them fair and honourable increases in their pensions.

We should note that Agent Orange affected military personnel as well as civilians.

On next week's second Tuesday in the month, long after the hooves of The Melbourne Cup are stilled, some permanently, millions around the nation will again hold their breath on Remembrance Day and observe a minute's silence on the 11th day of the 11th month to acknowledge the 96th Anniversary of the Armistice of the First World War as well as the sacrifice made by the dead, the living and the living dead who walk amongst us, in all wars and conflicts.

For several years, Independent Australia has campaigned and written about the shameful plight of our veterans.

On Monday, the Defence Force Welfare Association (DFWA) in conjunction with the Alliance of Defence Service Organisations (ADSO) issued a media release condemning the outrageous and pompous decision of the Defence Remuneration Tribunal (DFRT) to endorse the Abbott Coalition Government's crude and unforgivable decision to limit veteran pension increases to an insulting 1.5% per annum – wait for it – thinly spread over three years — barely half the expected annual inflation rate.

National President, David Jamison said:

It is a strange way to reward ADF members for their dedication and hard work especially as the Government has just dispatched a new contingent to the ongoing Middle East conflicts.”

It is time that DFWA Patron, His Excellency General, the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd), now Governor General, did what he should have done when he was chief of the Army and when he was chief of the Defence Force — publicly recommend that Australia's returning defence personnel be accorded pensions worthy of their sacrifice and commitment.

There is fresh blood on the yellow wattle, spilling onto the green of our national colours and national returned veterans.

From wounds and heartbreak caused by successive and callous home-grown Australian governments, whose continuing war against our veterans is such that they are taking no prisoners; dead or alive.

If you are in distress and having difficulty coping – or know someone who is – please reach out for help.

Here are some helplines from the Northern Territory's Health Department website:

ATAPS Suicide Support Line 1800 859 585 is a national initiative and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week to ensure individuals have access to expert mental health support around the clock. Qualified support counsellors are available to support
individuals over the phone when they can't reach their regular health care provider.

Beyondblue 1300 224 636: Information and resources including webchat for all people experiencing mental health issues and feeling at risk.

Defence Force 1800 624 608: The Defence Force Family Helpline is staffed by qualified human services professionals including social workers and psychologists, who can provide you with assessment, assistance or referral and has a range of supports available through their website.

Kids Helpline 1800 551 800: Kids Helpline is a free 24 hour counselling service for Australian kids and young people aged 5-25 years. You can get help over the phone, email or web.

Lifeline 13 11 14: As one of the most trusted organisations in Australia, Lifeline provides access to a range of crisis support, suicide prevention and mental health support services. They are available 24 hours 7 days a week.

Mensline Australia 1300 789 978: MensLine Australia is a professional telephone and online support, information and referral service, helping men to deal with relationship problems in a practical and effective way. Available 24/7.

National Hope Line 1300 467 354: Hope for Life Suicide Prevention & Bereavement Support provides information, resources and training for those that support people who are at risk of suicide or have lost a loved one to suicide.

Northern Territory Crisis Assessment Telephone Triage Service (NTCATT) 1800 682 288: NTCATT provide a 24 hour, 7 day a week telephone triage service in the Northern Territory for emergency inquiries from anyone experiencing a mental health crisis, feeling at risk of attempting suicide or concerned about someone's wellbeing.

Salvation Army Hope Line 1300 467 354: Hope for Life Suicide Prevention & Bereavement Support provides information, resources and training for those that support people who are at risk of suicide or have lost a loved one to suicide.

Samaritans Crisis Line 1800 198 313: is a 24 hour crisis line and youth crisis line (08 93882500) for those requiring emotional support or feeling at risk.

SANE Australia 1800 18 SANE (7263): is a national charity working towards a better life for people affected by mental illness, through campaigning, education and research. The SANE Helpline and Helpline Online also provide advice, information and referral for people concerned about mental illness and suicide prevention and provides information about symptoms, treatments, medications, where to go for support and help for carers. Easy to read pamphlets and other information are also sent out on request.

Standby Response 0418575680: The NT Standby Response Service is a community-based, postvention program that provides a 24 hour coordinated response offering support and assistance for Northern Territory people who have been bereaved by suicide recently or in the past. Top End ph: 0418575680; Central Australia ph: 0439 842 155.

Suicide Call Back Service 1330 659 467: is a 24 hour nationwide service that provides free professional telephone and online counselling to people over 18 years who are suicidal, caring for someone who is suicidal or has been bereaved by suicide.

Suicide Prevention Australia 1800 465 366: 24 hour crisis assistance available.

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