Our news feature includes articles from some important sources in the Post Traumatic Stress medical industry - click the links below for more information.
Give an Hour
Phoenix Australia - June 2020 Update
Proactive practitioners can reduce the effects of bushfire trauma
Because of these unusual times our Anzac Day this year has to be commemorated individually.
We are all being asked to stand in our driveways at 6am as the sun rises.
Please look at this video and try to play the song as you commemorate our heroes.
This song was written and produced by Shane Murray and Garry Smith from Brisbane in just the last week.
Please honour their brilliant efforts and share this video with as many people as possible.
RSL QUEENSLAND URGES FURTHER CAREFUL DELIBERATION ON PROPOSAL TO STRIP UNIT CITATION
RSL Queensland has encouraged the Department of Defence to deliberate more fully on the service contributions of the thousands of defence personnel who participated in the Special Operations Task Group in Afghanistan over many years, before taking any decision to potentially remove the unit’s Meritorious Unit Citation.
State President, Tony Ferris, said any such decision on the Citation needed to be balanced and proportionate, taking into account the impact on the vast majority of Australia’s Defence personnel who have served their country with integrity and distinction.
“Every day, RSL supports those who deployed to Afghanistan as part of the Special Operations Task Group, and their families.
“It would be unfair if the alleged illegal actions of a small number of individuals diminished the contributions and reputations of the many who have served with honour, regularly putting their lives on the line for their country.
“The overwhelming majority of our nation’s veterans deserve our gratitude and respect… not to have their contributions diminished, or made to feel ‘guilty by association’.”
As Queensland’s largest veteran representative organisation, RSL Queensland has counselled from the outset that the Government and public allow due legal process to be followed in the wake of the findings of the IGADF Afghanistan Inquiry Report.
“If illegal or unethical activities are found - by full and appropriate legal processes - to have occurred, then those individuals responsible should be held accountable,” Mr Ferris said.
All veterans in need of support are encouraged to contact RSL Queensland’s Veteran Services team on 134 RSL or email@example.com, or to contact their local RSL Sub Branch. Those in need of urgent help can also reach out to Open Arms on 1800 011 046, where counsellors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The contributors named below were junior Officers, NCOs, or Diggers in Vietnam. We served in combat roles with 2RAR/NZ (Anzac) Battalion May 1970 to June 1971, experiencing the horrors and triumphs of armed conflict. We understand the ongoing effects on ourselves and our comrades. We wish to record our disappointment and distress on how the allegations of atrocities in Afghanistan have been addressed by the Prime Minister, and in particular the Chief of the Defence Forces.
Prior to the release of the report the Prime Minister created an expectation of horror, with at least an impression that the contents were proof of criminal conduct by members of SAS Regiment. On the release of the report his obvious rage supported the impression he had given the week before. To confirm that impression he advised that he had formally apologised to the Government of Afghanistan. It is not unreasonable to conclude that the various addresses adopted a ‘Presumption of Guilt’, contrary to Australian Law and the UN Charter.
The Chief of the Defence Force essentially echoed the words of the Prime Minister. He compounded the issue by not only adopting the ‘Presumption of Guilt’, but by announcing outrageous initial retributions that would be imposed. The Chief of the Defence Force then offended many veterans and current service members by restating the unfortunate observation in the report that ‘no officers were involved’ in the various activities. No mention of the other 26,000 armed service personnel who served there, many of whom sacrificed life and limb and mental health, and insulting many officers who consider that they are an integral part of the unit they serve or served with. His address was insulting, inappropriate, self-serving, and extremely poor leadership. The Chief of the Defence Force may well be a person to bear part of the responsibility for the numerous failures obvious in the conduct of the conflict.
The Prime Minister and the Chief of the Defence Force were intense in their moral indignation, clearly intended to represent their responses and behaviour as virtuous. Having clearly adopted and encouraged the Presumption of Guilt, then promised all accused an independent investigation and a fair trial.
It may be the case that no officer has been identified as being involved in any of the events. To suggest that for a period of more than five years and thirty nine atrocities, not one officer was close enough to his troops, or had access to the usual boozer gossip to at least be aware of some allegations, is simply not credible.
Official reports inform that in the period 2001 – 2016, a total of fifty six Australian service personnel were killed in action, and three hundred and seventy three of the veterans who served in that period committed suicide. The suicide rate was seven times more than battle casualties. What more warning was required to the Government and the military hierarchy to thoroughly investigate the causes of suicide and develop appropriate responses? To our national shame the suicide rate has increased and is more likely to be ten times above battle fatalities, with another nine suicides in the last few weeks. If the same proportions applied to all wars we have been involved in, we would have experienced over one million suicides. Unimaginable.
It may be that with the retirement of General Peter Cosgrove, the army lost the last Commander who had any serious and life-threatening battle experience. Those who followed were undoubtedly qualified academically, but may not, and probably could not, have a meaningful understanding of the psychological impacts of battle, including the impact of over exposure to traumatic experiences, the initial paralysis of fear, the horror of loss or mutilation of comrades, and the images that will never be erased.
It is a simple reality that soldiers dehumanise their immediate enemy combatants. Any one of sound mind could not callously take the life of another non-combatant human being, yet innocents have been massacred in every war in history. It is only when the perpetrator dehumanises an entire country or a section of a country, that this will happen, and has happened throughout history, and continues in many conflicts today. The focus for Australia, at least from 2016, should have been on the origins of mental health issues, starting with the initial recruitment, basic and corps training, leadership, tolerance assessment, and over exposure to battle.
Many SASR soldiers have served multiple tours of Afghanistan. Up to six or eight tours is not uncommon, with one reported as having had sixteen tours. In time spent in actual operations on six tours, it would equate to the actual time spent in operations that a digger would have served in the entire WW2. Sixteen tours would equate to the total time spent in operations in all wars since Federation. How the hierarchy could have approved and encouraged that level of multiple tours, especially after the 2016 report, is incomprehensible and requires explanation.
The Australian Defence Forces senior management, including the Chief of the Defence Forces, will eventually have to answer for their failures.
We do not in any way condone any violations of the Geneva Convention, notwithstanding that in both Vietnam and Afghanistan our enemies were not distracted by any such niceties. We are however determined to ensure that all relevant matters required to give a complete perspective are canvassed and that the accused are not sacrificed at the altar of the bureaucracy.
Any of those accused who are of sound mind and are found or plead guilty will have seriously diminished the proud reputation Australians have earned in battle since Federation. They will receive no sympathy.
D.W.Horrigan DCM Rifleman
P.M.Wood MID Section Commander
B.R.Seeley MID Platoon Sergeant
R.G.Franklin Platoon Commander
T.H.O’Neill Platoon Commander
P.D.Savage MC Platoon Commander