10 years can pass before war veterans show signs of post-Traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with the State Government aiming to target the disorder ahead of Veterans’ Health Week.
Veterans Issues Minister Peter Tinley will raise the disorder faced by war veterans as part of the Veterans’ Health Week, where he will open the week on Thursday at the Ellenbrook sub-branch of the Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL).
“(It) gives us an opportunity to focus on some of the specific difficulties faced by many serving and formed members of the armed forces,” he said.
“Individuals in other parts of our society are also affected by this terrible problem, but research figures indicated PTSD among veterans is much higher per capita than other sectors of the community.”
Previous studies of Vietnam veterans found the occurrence of PTSD was 40 times greater than in the general population.
He also said there veterans experienced a high mortality rate away from active duty.
“A few months ago the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reported that between 2001-15 there were 325 certified deaths among people with at least one day of service in the armed forces since 2001,” Mr Tinley said.
“To put this in perspective, in Afghanistan 41 soldiers were killed during the same timeframe.”
Mr Tinley said more effort needed to be made to make the public aware of the situation facing veterans, which he said people “may only be just starting to see the longer-term consequences of the conflicts of Iraq and Afghanistan”.
“The situation is untenable and it is my conviction that we need to put greater effort into protecting, nourishing and ensuring the wellbeing of our veterans,” he said.
He said more could be done to combat the disorder.
“This is one of the reasons why I am keen to see improved data collection systems that can help identify veterans in our community and subsequently offer them more early intervention and support services that can help counter the fatal consequences of PTSD.”