Tuesday January 22, 2019
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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

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.

ALSO READ: Should Retired Military Officers Endorse Presidential Candidates?

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.

ALSO READ: Missouri Senator plans to introduce new Bill in support of World War II Veterans

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

Next Story

Australia Serious About Tackling Climate Change: Prime Minister Morrison

Pacific nations have debts of about $4 billion. Creditors include the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, while $1 billion is owed to China.

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Australia, Climate
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is presented with a gift as he arrives in Port Vila, Vanuatu, Jan. 16, 2019. VOA

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has wrapped up a three-day trip to the South Pacific to reassure vulnerable island nations that Canberra is serious about tackling climate change.

Morrison told Pacific Island leaders that Australia would meet its international obligations to reduce carbon emissions in line with the Paris climate change agreement.

Many low-lying communities fear that rising sea levels will force them from their homes. In Samoa, coastal villages are already making plans to relocate to higher ground in the nation’s volcanic interior.

Morrison’s three-day trip to Vanuatu and Fiji has been described by foreign policy experts as mostly a success.

great barrier reef, Climate
A large piece of coral can be seen in the lagoon on Lady Elliot Island, on the Great Barrier Reef, northeast of Bundaberg town in Queensland, Australia. VOA

Coal a sticking point

But climate change remains a source of friction between Australia and its smaller neighbors. Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama criticized Canberra for not doing more to cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the economy’s reliance on coal. Australia has some of the world’s highest per capita rates of carbon pollution.

Australia is also eager to counter China’s growing strategic influence in the South Pacific, although Morrison insists all countries should work together.

“We are here because we are for the independent sovereignty and prosperity of Vanuatu because they are our Pacific neighbors and family. That is why we are here,” he said. “Our objectives and our motives here, I think, are very transparent to our family and friends here in the Pacific, particularly here in Vanuatu. This question is put to me all the time. I mean, we do not have to choose. We just have to work cooperatively together.”

Australia, Meat free,Hurricane, climate change, economic
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)

Australia has also mended a previously fraught relationship with Fiji. Prime Minister Bainimarama is a former commander of the Fijian military who deposed an elected government in 2006. Democracy was restored to Fiji, an archipelago of about 900,000 people, in 2014.

Also Read: Australia’s Maribyrnong Detention Center Gets Closed

Countering China

Pacific nations have debts of about $4 billion. Creditors include the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, while $1 billion is owed to China.

Experts say that some South Pacific countries have preferred to take out loans from China rather than accept grants from Australia because the process was simpler and less bureaucratic. (VOA)