Today, as we remember the Great Wars and those who fought for freedom around the world, a veterans group is calling on Australians to do something that could change a soldier’s life.
After we’ve paused for a minute to honour those who have fallen, we’re being asked to take an extra minute to reach out to a mate – be it a soldier, or just someone who could be struggling with loneliness, depression, trauma or mental illness.
The veteran’s support group Soldier On, says around 15,000 men and women who have served are still battling mental health issues, and less than half of them will seek support.
The group says the suicide toll from the conflict in Afghanistan is three times higher than the casualties of war and that there has been a four-fold increase in post-traumatic stress disorder cases since Australian troops first went to war in Afghanistan in 2001.
“We are asking people to connect with others – make sure their mates know they are there, and know they are not walking alone,” said Soldier On chief executive John Bale, himself a former soldier.
“Take one minute to remember the ultimate sacrifice made by so many, and then take one minute to remember the recently returned veterans and the challenges and struggles they face,” he said.
“Support those who have been in contemporary conflicts — so East Timor, Afghanistan, Iraq, and also the peacekeepers and Australian Federal Police officers that support the troops.”
“If you don’t have a personal connection to a veteran, just reach out to your mates. You never know who might be struggling,” he said.
“We are asking people to connect with others — make sure their mates know they are there, and know they are not walking alone.”
Do you know someone who could use some support this Remembrance Day? It could be a veteran, the mother of a soldier or a widow. Please help us spread the word.
Need help: Phone Lifeline on 13 11 14