Janet's Conner

This Blog tell the Truth and will never not tell the Truth. Impeach Bush

Saturday, May 20, 2006

TRAUMA TAKES ITS TOLL...........................................................................................

More than 50 Australian soldiers have been discharged for mental health reasons after serving in Iraq.

While Australia's official casualty list from the war on terror remains small compared with other coalition nations, the high rate mental ilness among those who have served is fast emerging as a serious concern for the defence forces.

About 6,000 troops have served in Iraq since the US-led invasion in 2003, and 52 have since been discharged with mental conditions ranging from anxiety and depression to post-traumatic stress disorder.

Veteran's Affairs Minister Bruce Billson confirmed the issue was of "great priority" to the Government, which will soon have almost 2,000 troops on overseas deployment.

Mr. Billson said the Government and the Australian Defence Force were reviewing whether support offered to veterans was adequate given the "worrying proportion" of them being diagnosed with mental conditions. He blamed the changing nature of peacekeeping operations that Australia wa taking part in.

"Success in fighting mental health problems is not as great as we would hope but we are learning more every day," Mr. Billson said.

"It is an issue of great priority."

The issue really hits home for Gordon Traill, who capped off nearly three decades in the army with a stint in Iraq with the 5/7 Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment security detachment in Baghdad's infamous red zone in 2003.

Two years later he was medically discharged suffering PTSD.

"I have no idea how what happened in Iraq did this to me, but I am not the same person I was before I went over," Mr. Traill said.

"It just comes up and smacks you on the back of the head and you do get damn angry out it."

"We lived, slept and breathed a highly stressful environment for six month. When I returned to Australia I was driving down the road looking for the bad guys---you start to realise how close to death you were."

Peacekeepers and Peacemakers Association president Paul Copeland said the active nature of the defence force was partially to blame for the increase in mental illness.

Mr. Copeland said some soldiers had toured six times since 1999, and he warned problems would skyrocket if mandatory minimum breaks were not enforced.

"The number is very high and multiple deployments are compounding stresses," he said.

ADF Chief psychologist Len Lambeth said the military "would be silly" to expet every soldier deployed to return home perfectly well.

He said the rate of mental illness would be unlikely to decrease.

Source: The Courier Mail
Story By: Jason Gregory
May 20, 2006


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