Vietnam veteran’s proposal to reduce veteran suicides

We’ve heard plenty of talk in recent times about the growing problem of suicide amongst our returned servicemen. Now a

We’ve heard plenty of talk in recent times about the growing problem of suicide amongst our returned servicemen.

Now a Senate inquiry into suicides by veterans and ex-service personnel has heard from a Vietnam veteran, who has a proposal on how to tackle the issue.

What he said might sound harsh to some, but it’s likely to get some support from older veterans.

NewsCorp reports Kenneth Park, who served in Borneo and Vietnam, made a “powerful” submission to the inquiry about veteran suicides.

The 79-year-old believes there was a lack of mental training to prepare soldiers for seeing a mate killed in battle.

“They are not taught how to deal with the trauma of actually killing another human, of seeing a mate blown to pieces — the first body that most see is on the battlefield,” he said.

“Today most youths have never even killed a chook.

“Why not visit a morgue, why not spend a day at the abattoirs seeing animals die?

“Some form of desensitising training has to precede battlefield exposure.”

The veteran argues the support system of veterans was too “daunting” for veterans seeking help.

He also said most of us had no idea about the battles in the mind of our returned servicemen.

Meanwhile, another former serviceman pointed to another issue facing veterans – their ability to find another job.

Former RAAF officer Peter Hayes received only two invitations for an interview after applying for 400 jobs.


“The experience of sustained rejection harms self-esteem, which in turn feeds depression, interpersonal conflict and even self-harm or suicide,” he said.

Growing up a lot of us saw death, especially growing up on farms. Do you think Kenneth Park is right in what he says?

  1. Diana Deane  

    I dont think traumatising children is going to “desensitize” them as adults. I think we’d be running the risk of
    RE-traumatising them in later life and this could be a bigger risk for problems, rather than a solution.
    However a LESS complicated way for soldiers to access support and treatment would be a great idea, perhaps accessing assistance could be RECOMMENDED “to talk things through”, it might help reduce the stigma associated with “needing” help.

  2. Stephen  

    As a Viet Vet the only training that sustained me was 4 weeks at Canungra. One afternoon we saw a 44 gallon drum filled with water being shot at, nice hole going in, but blew out the back of it.
    Believe me when the round black hole of the end of a gun barrel is looking at you, or bullets are flying by “talking things through” doesn’t cut it. First you have to accept and face up to the fact you have a problem, and when you’re running from hell in your own head, that is not that easy. Then you have to be able to talk, let alone through, took me 20 stuffed and life lost years. Yeah better training so people get some concept beyond the hero movies is a better reality to take to war.

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