Support needed for our returned servicemen and women

Sleeping rough: A homeless man takes shelter at Central station. War veterans make up about 10 per cent of the homeless in Sydney and Parramatta. Picture: Wolter Peeters

Sleeping rough: A homeless man takes shelter at Central station. War veterans make up about 10 per cent of the homeless in Sydney and Parramatta. Picture: Wolter Peeters

Christmas is around the corner and homeless war veterans sleeping rough on streets and parks and in shady hollows. 

I have surveyed and investigated and found about 10 per cent of rough sleepers in Sydney, Parramatta, are war veterans, all with serious physical and mental health problems. 

Homeless veterans members has increased alarmingly since June 2016 and intimately 3500 are battling mental illness, drug and alcohol dependency, relationship breakdown and (critically) suicide .

The diggers have fallen on hard times.  Sometimes they struggle  to return to normal civilian life.  

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has requested corporations and other institutiosn to open up employment for these return soldiers, and to help them to integrate into society.

But there is more required help needed by the government of the day, what is called “duty of care”.

Homelessness and mental illness are endemic among younger veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

If medically discharged from  service, vets are no longer entitled to a Defence house and their family can be evicted, putting relationships under huge strain.

Department of Veteran Affairs needs to re-examine the procedures of the Review Board, which carries a lot of weight to grant members of the Return Services the required help they need.

I ask the community to please support your returned servicemen and women in any way you can. 

Keith Boog, Mortdale

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