Dear Editor

Later this month, National PTSD Awareness Day will encourage us all to recognise the effects post-traumatic stress can have on some Australians.

Post-traumatic stress was once a condition that was commonly attributed to returning military veterans but we know today, it can impact people from all walks of life.

PTSD can be treated and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs is working closely with health professionals, ex-service organisations and the community to improve the mental wellbeing of all veterans and their families.

The Prime Minister has made it clear our government will take concerted action to prevent suicide across the nation and we’re providing more than $200 million a year towards veteran mental health, as part of more than $11 billion for veterans in this year’s budget.

All veterans are eligible to free mental health care for life and we have improved the Open Arms veterans counselling service along with providing free mental health first aid training for volunteers. This will be further enhanced by the Government’s commitment to a new partnership with the RSL.

For the first time, the Federal Government will provide financial support for the purchase of assistance dogs and we have a new immediate payment system available for veterans while their mental health claims are processed by DVA.

It is national tragedy that more than 3000 Australians take their own lives each year and there is no single solution to this often sad and complex issue.

Mental health is also everyone’s business – families, friends, employers, community organisations, and the Ex-service Organisation community. But Australians can be assured that DVA is working with veterans and their families every day to improve services and support those who have served in our Australian Defence Force and will continue to play its part in improving mental health, and reducing the risk of suicide.

For those in need, Open Arms Veterans and Family Counselling Service can be contacted on 1800 011 046.

Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel Darren Chester