Army Veterans and Australia’s attitude to former soldiers

Controversial topic particularly given recent coverage of ptsd and suicides by former soldiers.

No matter what industry you work in, safe work (and post work care if injured) should not be questioned.

What are OzBargainers views on the attention generally given to veterans matters, particularly given conscription is no longer a thing.

Poll Options expired

  • 134
    We should do everything to help - Soldiers serve our nation and protect our freedoms
  • 267
    It’s a job they chose to do voluntarily - they earned a wage/salary for that job


  • +51

    Thankfully, unlike some other places in the world, we don't have a military worship culture here in Australia. It's a job like any other and is entered into by choice.

    • +7

      Yes, but choice can be manipulated with cunning.

      • +3

        Everything can be manipulated with cunning.

        • +7

          What about cunning? Can that be manipulated by cunning?

          • +3

            @SBOB: Then it is guile

            • +5

              @Seedy seed: Guile … one of the best words in the English language!

              • +1

                @Seraphin7: \ ˈbest \ v. \ excelling all others

                you can only chose one best. there is no bests.

              • +2



                Sonic Boom!

    • +5

      It's one of the things I really love about Australia.

      • -3

        Yea, you know in Mehico even drug lords can beat policemen

    • +25

      I feel that's a (deliberately misleading?) oversimplification of the issue.

      Firefighters all voluntarily become one too and they get paid a salary. When they risk their lives to protect a community, I still think they're absolute heroes for doing so.

      Soldiers are the same.

      • +9

        You see, absolute heroes for me would be the RFS volunteers.

        • +2

          Exactly, Who else would light all the fires.

          • @metallum: I know what you’re referring to, but disagree with the sentiment. It’s like every organisation, there are some bad apples.

          • @metallum: Lol a man who knows his stats nice :)

    • +7

      There are lots veterans in Australia who didn't have a choice.

      • +3

        Elaborate? This thread is about post conscription soldiers

        • I'd argue it isn't.
          Regardless this episode of "You can't ask that" from the ABC offers some valuable insight in to the subject.

          • +11

            @Ozbargainite: Perhaps I’d know, i created it.

            • +3

              @Vote for Pedro: Conscription is no longer a thing =/= veterans from the conscription era no longer exist.

              You may want to be clearer in your original post next time…

              E.g. "What are OzBargainers views on the attention generally given to veterans matters, particularly concerning veterans who of their free will voluntarily joined the defence force post-1972".

              • @tensionday: I think most people get it. Just a few who want to wave their hands and say ‘but wait, look over there…”

                And yes, we recognise those that were forced to serve or went willingly without pay.

              • @tensionday: I hadn't realised that all our conscripted Vietnam Veterans had died. I know my dad hasn't.

              • @tensionday: Conscription was the worst offence forced on Australian citizens by the government (of the day) ever. How many vets that survived are still suffering in silence ?
                Substantially more veterans post 1972 have died of suicide at home than under enemy fire.

    • +15

      Ultimately though, these people volunteering means the rest of you won't need to be conscripted.

      So you should be thankful for that at least.

      • +3

        Volunteering these days is not ww2 volunteering. These days what you are volunteering for is a steady wage, fully paid nationally recognised qualifications as well as a bunch of cost of living perks. At a guess a significant percentage of people going into the army are not volunteering to lay down their lives so we don’t have to.

        • +1

          That's a bit of a moot point as there arent any 'qualifications' on what you've agreed to opt in for at the recruiting office. You basically sign a blank cheque. Nobody on the battlefield checks a database to see who signed up for storming an enemy machinegun.

          • @2ndeffort: Kind of have to expect war as a possibility when you join the army. Though as I’ve already said, the marketing is pretty slick and attractive to 17yr olds.

          • @2ndeffort: There are plenty of qualifications obtained. Not sure why the ‘’s, unless you are not familiar with the actual meaning of the term. Army, Navy and Air Force put a fair bit of money into their recruits. You have people there who become qualified chefs, logistics officers, electricians, carpenters, pilots, helicopter pilots, nurses.
            All of these and more are required by the armed services and paid for and provided. So while nobody on the battlefield is checking the database on who is storming an enemy machine gun, they are checking that the qualified nurse has the med kit and that it’s the trained pilot that is flying the plane.

            • +2

              @pwnd: I served 15 years as an officer in the Army, they paid for 2 of my degrees including a Masters degree at UNSW, I'm quite well aware of the model. I also remember a pay corps soldier (yes, an accountant, person that works out Soldier's Pay) being shot in the chest with a pistol on a range practice and killed instantly. The whole argument that she was just signing up for a free accounting course and not actually signing up to fight in a war was probably lost on her parents when the padre visited to give them the sad news.

              Without diminishing the hardships faced by the Infantry who clearly have the toughest job, the Army is a team and there are people from all sorts of other corps and specialisations that deploy on operations and put themselves in harms way. The guys looking for and making IEDs safe are normally Field Engineers, not Infantry. The guys manning roadblocks can often be Military Police, we (signals) used to provide communications detachments of a couple of soldiers to the Infantry to provide their comms and IT support in the field including Special Forces signallers (some of whom have been killed on operations). The Infantry clearly face the greatest hardships and dangers but it is naive to think that the enemy doesn't go after enemy soldiers that arent infantry or that you arent in any danger if you arent Infantry. If anything an enemy actively seeks to get at the behind the lines support elements for a whole range of reasons. Soldieers from all corps in the Army are armed, are trained to fight and man defensive positions etc. Infantry have it as their sole specialisation and understandable are better at it but soldiers from all the other corps train for and are prepared to fight.

              I served in the Army but I would also think that in the Navy, if a ship is sunk everyone on board ends up in the water or worse regardless of whether you were a gunner or a cook.

      • Lol Australia isn't participating in any total wars where we need hundreds of thousands of people in the army.

        • Yeah would 'only' be ~60,000 conscripted to meet current needs, but 60k is 60k.

      • As much as id like to believe what you are saying..there is no way I can believe to 100% certainty that the rest of us won't need to be conscripted. Just saying who knoes what the heck will happen in the near to long term future.

        • +1

          Australia still needs a military. If no-one volunteered people would be conscripted.

          • +2

            @trapper: When you say ‘volunteered’ do you mean ‘chose a career path’?

          • @trapper: Actually 2 conscription referendums have been defeated in Australia, including during WW1 when the Army was desperate for replacements.

    • +1

      Its beginning to happen through. The Americans go out of their way to say "Thank you for your service" to armed forces personel. ScoMo wants armed forces folk to get both discount cards as well as public recognition at official events in a similar way to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

      • +4

        depends on the color and the politics of the soldier in america

    • Good propaganda more like it, you need to do abit of research/ speak to a sample of people who have been in.

    • +1

      Like in USA where every NBA game salutes the troops, then the anthem has a troop holding the flag. It is brainwashing from a freedom loving country which occupies about 50 countries with 800 military bases in foreign countries. They just took out a democratic leader in bolivia and are trying to do the same in venezuela. They use torture and support terrorists all over the world. Go Freedom!

      Still I support our vets to some extent though if they kill any innocent the public deserve to know with no hiding any truths.

  • +22

    Here's an interesting thing I just learned about American soldiers from a Pentagon report:
    "…the number of veterans and service members lost to suicide in just one year now surpasses the number of lives lost during the operations in Afghanistan and Iraq to date."

    By the way, I think the "protecting our freedom" and "protecting national interests" rhetoric are very hard to justify.

    • +13

      'Protecting national interests' is an american euphemism for 'Protecting corporate interests'

      Here's a few more going back to the 1800's.

      • +1

        We do not have to use conspiracy theory to prove USA is an aggressive imperialist empire. The facts are there using history as evidence. Then we also have a good idea what the CIA are up to by joining the dots and by the CIA's own admissions. There are 16 government security agencies in place protecting the elites freedom in USA.

        The constitution states to bomb or invade another country the senate must vote on the resolution first. The current wars or places being bombed have not been voted on in the senate meaning the people conducting the wars are criminals above the law such as George W Bush.

        Please listen to this podcast of a well balanced, highly intelligent young man who tells exactly what USA are up to without wild conspiracies. Very entertaining podcast.

    • +5

      Suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians between 15 and 44 years of age. Not just veterans.

      • +1

        At least we have a Mental Health Care Plan that can provide up to ten visits for treatment. Is there anything like that in America or do they just prescribe opioids and sweep the problems under the rug?

        • -2

          yeah American big pharma prescriptions for anti -depressants known to worsen symptoms and cause suicides….

          • +2

            @petry: While some antidepressants for some people at some doses can exacerbate symptoms, particularly in the short term, there is benefit for many to be had from that class of drug. Attitudes like yours are particularly unhelpful, in that posting this kind of FUD makes people fearful of evidence-based treatments, and they start using phrases like "big pharma" and spouting anti-vax BS. Few drug companies are angels, and yeah, they're profit machines, and you need to understand what your medication is doing instead of blindly accepting what your GP says - but if they didn't help, people wouldn't keep taking them… It really is that simple mate.

  • +22

    My opinion is that it is a job they chose to do and don't deserve any additional recognition versus any other job. I do think that PTSD and other trauma should be cared for by the Country since it is directly resulting from the work they have been ordered to do and included in the cost of running the defence forces.

    • +8

      Exactly. Pretty much like any other job that has a high potential for PTSD - e.g. law enforcement, medical care. It's why we have a healthcare system, it's there to support those who need it.

      • +8

        Not sure if you know but the healthcare system is pretty crap for mental health.

        • Completely disagree, An extended family who has gone through it, has gone so far on 3 x one week “rehab” visits where he stays there for a week at a time and is followed up by daily psychologist appointments, For a few weeks all bulk billed.

        • hmm it isnt perfect, and its complicated to manage, but so far from what i've seen australia puts a lot of effort in developping it and making sensible (not just fashionable )decisions.
          When you look at the picture and the problems, its certainly discouraging..hats off to those wanting to work in that field

        • +2

          Australian mental health services are crap -they follow American and English drug treatments which include electro shock because its cheaper than the drugs. Australian mentally ill are treated as subhuman, homeless and invariably criminalised.

          • +1

            @petry: that's some blanket statement

            • @gimme: read the reports

              • @petry: feel free to share the reports that back your generalised inferences.

                • @gimme: troll away clown

                  • @petry: proved my point thanks - case in point, how can someone be treated as homeless. You're either homeless or you're not. Or are you saying all mentally ill people are homeless?? which is also far from the truth, considering a large proportion of the population has experienced some sort of mental illness in their lives.

                    • @gimme: troll troll troll - a large percentage of mentally ill people including veterans who fought are homeless - why stop your vacuous trolling and read something try this

                      its a report which makes plain that the mentally ill in Australia are largely cared for by unpaid carers because of the sheer horror of the crap services provided ie being chained to a trolley for a week because of no beds available…

                      why would anyone seek help only to be chained to a trolley for a week in a busy corridor? trolling is normal here but trolling about the mentally ill only proves my point.

                      • +1

                        @petry: You can shout out troll all you like but it doesn't make you correct. Do you even know what trolling is? or in your mind anyone who disagrees with your simplistic generalisations is a troll?

                        Where in that report indicates that a large % of mentally ill people are homeless? You may be confused. Large % of homeless people may be mentally ill which is a VERY different thing to what you're spruiking.

                        • -5

                          @gimme: you're a right one u asked for reports

                          'feel free to share the reports that back your' gimme

                          now you want me to read them to you for the bits u want - u carry on playing your sick games

                          • @petry: The report you shared did not back up your assertions. I did not make any assertions, merely pointed out that what you were saying didn't make sense and still doesn't. You don't need to read out the report to me - just do a search for 'homeless' and you get ZERO hits. Pretty simple really.

                            Anyway, I'm out - Penny just dropped for me so I'm not engaging any more. All the best!

                            • -1

                              @gimme: glad u gone

                              there's over 130,000 homeless now roughly - 15% are identified as mentally ill by being in the system - - there are only just over 7,000 beds for mental patients in Australia.

                              the number of unidentified mentally ill homeless is an unknown despite the fact that being homeless is likely to make u seriously ill.

                              the mentally ill in Australia are largely uncared for - except by family and friends - as simple figures show. Mental health professionals treat them like trash, and there is no oversight save the courts. No-one keeps stats of mental health nurses found guilty of crimes against patients, multiple rapes have to be reported for years for any action to be taken ete etc - its a sordid nasty pus filled industry - care is largely absent.

                              if u didn't like the treatment of minors in care in NT, that was positively pleasant to mental health care across Australia.

                              • @petry: Lol you just proved my point above that you had it backwards as I thought. Let me say this again so you may get it. Large % of mentally ill are NOT homeless.. large % of homeless are mentally ill which is where this whole discussion started but clearly critical thinking or basic logic isn't your thing.

                                • -3

                                  @gimme: did you forget u gone? your argument is solely based on your own reconstruction of what I wrote - it ignores factual reality but then trolls usually do.

                                  Around 650,000 people in Australia have a severe mental illness - there are just over 7,000 beds - facts mate - can u do math or are just a troll making snide comments as you clearly appear to be…

                                  • @petry: Not all mental illness is treated in hospital mate. Majority isn't. You need a better argument. Also i see you conveniently changed direction.

    • +12

      Service life (I can only speak for Army) causes a lot more injuries than just PTSD. I served for 15 years, I have a vet affairs white card but I have friends who have gold cards. I joined willingly but a naive 20 year old me didn't know or appreciate the damage it would do long term to my knees, shoulders, back etc. At the time I was doing the injuries back in the 1990's I wasn't in any position to tell the officer in charge I'd rather not participate as I might get hurt and i think we should lodge a report for discussion at the next meeting of the health and safety committee.

      I dont want any American "thanks for your service" wank! I'm not interested in the discount card scheme I've not even read Scomo's charter document. Nobody forced me to sign up and I dont expect any thanks but I do expect some help for the injuries as i get older and the dodgy shoulder from falling off an obstacle course my 30's is now significantly worse despite treatment. The damaged knees are getting arthritis and the bung ankle takes 20 mins to loosen up each morning. I dont expect any thanks but I would qualify that the Army isnt like any otherJob. it's not 9 to 5, you cant quit and you have to live under Military Law. It's not like any other job by a very long stretch. it's a life and you sacrifice an awful lot to do it. I agree with you that Vets dont need to be thanked but please dont say that the Army is just like any other Job.

      • +1

        Thank you for your service. I appreciate your sacrifice and suffering, even if you don't want my gratitude.

  • +13

    Whilst I agree that Australia's armed involvement overseas seems to do little for 'protecting our freedoms' and is more likely just to further Allies agendas, I don't think that soldiers or anyone as OP suggests should be left high and dry after experiencing traumatic events. Stating that 'it's a job like any other and is entered by choice' is true, but therefore should guarantee them support equal to their needs. You wouldn't deny support to Paramedics traumatised by picking up body parts from the gravel after a bad accident just because 'they chose their job.'

    That being said, I am glad we don't have military worship culture here, especially since it contributes to so much domestic problems over there relating to violence and death.

  • +8

    Going to war to protect your country is honourable and I think we should all respect those who make sacrifices so that we can have the freedoms that we do today. If Australia was attacked tomorrow, I would, with no doubt, sign up to do what I can to help defend my country.

    However, that is not what the majority of the military is anymore. Australia, in its entire existence as a country, has never been under anywhere near foreign threat and with the increasing change in the way that wars are fought, with a trend towards weapons over manpower, the narrative of your ordinary every day person picking up arms to go defend his/her country is no longer the truth.

    I actually have many friends who've gone on to enlist in the military. My honest opinion is that the majority of them were not fueled by any bigger notion of service, but rather, they were mostly just guys who hadn't worked out what they wanted in life yet and had nowhere else to go. Most of them had dropped out of high school or uni, worked odd jobs in retail or whatever and had no real career path whilst everyone around them were starting to find success in life. These guys were generally pretty fit, so the military was a good place for them to get a sense of community, find something to do with their lives and get them back on track.

    I would say that it's no surprise that we have rampant mental health issues in the military. Sure, much of it is caused by what these troops go through in combat, but a lot of it is probably already dormant from before they decided to enlist. Many of my mates who ended up enlisting came from broken families and had difficult childhoods, they were looking for somewhere to belong. I don't think there should be any more or less attention given to mental health issues in the military vs. everywhere else, but I do think that the military is a fundamentally different job to other jobs.

    • +18

      Quote " Australia, in its entire existence as a country, has never been under anywhere near foreign threat"

      I somehow think that the 243 people who were killed when Darwin was bombed 64 times would disagree with that statement.

      • -7

        Thats less than 4 a bomb. We can sustain those losses.

        • +1

          I heard more people died from bombings per capita than pearl harbour when Labor uncensored it?

      • +7

        In addition to Darwin there were also the attacks in Sydney harbour:

        1 ship sunk, 21 killed, 10 wounded

        The Imperial Japanese army couldn't mount an effective long term campaign against the Australian mainland primarily because we sent troops overseas to fight off the invasion with our allies.

        • +2

          Also this

          Immediately following the raid, the five Japanese fleet submarines that carried the midget submarines to Australia embarked on a campaign to disrupt merchant shipping in eastern Australian waters. Over the next month, the submarines attacked at least seven merchant vessels, sinking three ships and killing 50 sailors. During this period, between midnight and 02:30 on 8 June, two of the submarines bombarded the ports of Sydney and Newcastle.

        • -2

          No. Japan didn't invade because they did not want to invade. Not because of our defence

          • @WinstonWithAY: Technically, at the time PNG was an Australian Protectorate and it most definitely was invaded. Australian servicepeople deployed to PNG to fight and protect it. (ever heard of Kokoda?)

    • -1

      Quote " Australia, in its entire existence as a country, has never been under anywhere near foreign threat"

      There are quite a few indigenous Australians that would disagree with this statement

      • +7

        "Existence as a country" rules out when it was only inhabited by indigenous tribes, many of which wouldn't even have been aware of one another.

        • +3

          And right on queue ladies and gentlemen, I present to you HighAndDry

          • +2

            @Vote for Pedro: Just stating a fact that Australia was as much a country back then as Europe is a country now. I don't understand your aversion to accuracy or facts.

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