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Almost Half of Australian Military Veterans Suffer Mental Health Conditions

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A veteran is pushed in a wheelchair during the ANZAC Day parade, in Sydney, Friday, April 25, 2014, commemorating the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) during the First World War. VOA
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Almost half of the Australian military personnel who’ve left the defense force in the past five years have some sort of mental disorder, according to a new study. The Australian government says it is the most comprehensive study ever undertaken in Australia of the effect of military service on the mental, physical and social health of veterans, including those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

For many former Australian service men and women, adapting to civilian life can be tough. According to a new study by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, about half suffer debilitating conditions that include anxiety and depression. Some retired soldiers, however, believe the true number of those affected is much higher.

Robin Lee was in the Australian army for 14 years, and served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder before he left the military in 2015.

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australian military veterans
The Australian government acknowledges that leaving the military can be a “daunting and challenging experience.”  Pixabay

He says the system for helping veterans with mental health issues is poor.
“These men are serving, getting problems,” said Lee. “They know they have problems but they have to go through a recognition process that is just disgusting. (It has) been mishandled at every level.”

The Veterans Affairs minister is Darren Chester.

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australian military veterans
Ministers say that free treatment for any mental health condition is now available to all veterans. The research into the mental and physical impact of Australia’s military service is continuing. Six further reports will be released by the end of next year. Pixabay

“The government is determined to put veterans and their health at the center of everything we do,” said Chester. “We are putting veterans first, we are putting veterans’ families first. In a nutshell, the research we are releasing today is confirming that we are heading in the right direction but more needs to be done to assist veterans and their families during the critical transitional period to civilian life.”

The Australian Defense Force comprises the Navy, Army and Air Force. It has more than 100,000 personnel, including permanent military personnel, reservists and civilian employees. VOA

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Queensland in Australia to Combat Diseases And Deaths Caused by Climate-change

Forecasters say southeastern Australia can expect more unusually warm and dry conditions in the coming months

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Queensland
FILE - A dead tree stands near a water tank in a drought-stricken paddock located on the outskirts of the southwestern Queensland town of Cunnamulla in outback Australia, Aug. 10, 2017. (VOA)

The Queensland state government in Australia is to fund a new program to help combat killer heatwaves and outbreaks of disease caused by climate change. Authorities are even discussing imposing tobacco-style taxes against carbon polluters. The initiative comes as the United Nation chief warned that if the world does not take serious action by 2020, it risks the fallout from “runaway climate change.”

The plan to tackle climate-related disease and deaths from heatwaves is part of the Queensland government’s efforts to cut the state’s carbon emissions to zero by 2050.

The strategy urges bureaucrats and executives to consider health impacts when assessing mining and energy projects. It also encourages the government not to subsidize “activities harmful to health and climate stability”.

It identifies heat stress among children and the elderly as the main concern for the future. Heatwaves are Australia’s biggest natural hazard, killing more people than droughts, floods and bush fires put together.

Other climate-driven health fears are “food and water insecurity, malnutrition, worsening [and] cardiovascular and respiratory” illnesses.

Fiona Armstrong, the head of the Climate and Health Alliance, which helped draw up the plan, said wild conditions can kill.

“You only need to look at the example of thunderstorm asthma in Melbourne a couple of years ago to see how these kinds of events, even though they might be predicted, can really take the sector and the community by surprise,” Armstrong said.

Australia
Tire tracks left by a truck can be seen in a drought-stricken paddock on Kahmoo Station property, located on the outskirts of the southwestern Queensland town of Cunnamulla in outback Australia, Aug. 10, 2017. (VOA)

Thunderstorm asthma can be triggered when storms play havoc with pollen, causing potentially fatal respiratory problems.

The Queensland plan also identifies the increased risk of mental illness among those affected by a worsening drought that has gripped much of eastern Australia, including much of Queensland and the entire state of New South Wales.

Queensland farmer Sid Plant said federal authorities are not doing enough.

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“Politicians do not seem to want to recognize that climate change is affecting Australia’s farmers. We are feeling the pain as early as anybody in the world. We are not living in the same climate that we were 20 years ago or 50 years ago,” said Plant.

Forecasters say southeastern Australia can expect more unusually warm and dry conditions in the coming months.

Some Australians doubt man’s influence on the climate, insisting that a shifting climate is part of a natural cycle. However, that remains a minority view. (VOA)