Operation Comapss | #CheckYourMates

https://www.opcompass.org.au/

CONNECT to others

Make the time to meet with mates, especially those you haven’t seen in a while. Connecting can be a simple as a phone call, fishing, a game of golf, morning tea, or a meal together. “Let’s catch up for a coffee or beer!” “Let’s catch up for a coffee or beer!

YARN to listen

Start the conversation to allow mates to open up about how they’ve been travelling – the key is to listen and not judge. The best way to start this process is a simple “How have you been?”

MOTIVATE to act

The last step is in some respects the most important, encouraging action and offering support to any mate you think might need it. This step can include connecting your mates with professional services.

‘Disheartening’: Veterans ‘let down’ by inquiry into anti-malarial drug trials

Veterans are disheartened by a Senate inquiry into anti-malarial drug trials they say have left them with debilitating symptoms for nearly 20 years.

Australian Defence Force personnel took quinoline drugs mefloquine and tafenoquine while deployed to Timor-Leste and Bougainville in Papua New Guinea between 1999 and 2002.

A Senate inquiry this year heard from veterans who have since suffered a range of symptoms including memory loss, vertigo, migraines, vivid nightmares, hearing and vision loss, irritable bowel syndrome, aggression and suicidal thoughts.

Most have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder but believe they actually have acquired brain injuries from toxicity and need rehabilitation.

They struggle to access the help they want from the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) because it doesn’t match their diagnoses.

The Senate committee accepted their symptoms were genuine in its report tabled this week, but made no findings on the causes of the health issues.

“We’re basically back to square one again,” Colin Brock, who was deployed to Timor-Leste in 2000 and served for 20 years, told The New Daily on Wednesday.

“It’s pretty disheartening.

“The government has looked like they’re doing something but it has actually, I believe, been a whole waste of time.”

An internal inquiry into the mefloquine trial by the ADF Inspector-General in 2016 found it was carried out ethically and in accordance with national guidelines.

The Repatriation Medical Authority found there was insufficient evidence that exposure to the drugs causes acquired brain injury, a finding supported by a September review by the Specialist Medical Review Council.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE

THE VETERAN FAMILY TOOLKIT SERIES

THE BOLTON CLARKE GROUP, INCLUDING ALTURA LEARNING AND THE BOLTON CLARKE RESEARCH INSTITUTE PRESENT – THE VETERAN FAMILY TOOLKIT SERIES

This series of videos aims to inform and educate current and former members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF), and importantly families and friends, about mental health. These videos cover post-traumatic mental health, avenues to treatment, and how to best support yourself and your loved one. The videos are designed to break down the stigma around seeking help, and include input from veterans, families, and experts in the field.

Veterans and their families share personal stories in this confronting but hopeful educational video series. The Veteran Family Toolkit explores mental health conditions experienced by returned service people, with an emphasis on PTSD. The aim is to let all Veterans and their families know that they are not alone and help is available.

Pat McIntosh, AM, CSC, Chairman of Bolton Clarke introduces the videos which can be seen in full on this link.

WHY THIS SERIES?

The video series emanated from a research project conducted by the Bolton Clarke Research Institute. The team aimed to explore the experience of veterans and their families, and identify gaps in health and social care for current and ex-serving ADF members and their families. Through focus groups and interviews*, a number of key areas of interest were apparent, including :

  • the difficulties faced during transition out of the Defence Force
  • mental health needs across different groups of veterans
  • challenges faced in seeking help for mental health conditions
  • impact of service and mental health conditions on family members, and
  • the need to support partners, children and parents, of veterans.

 *held in Townsville and Brisbane with 88 current and ex-serving ADF members, their families, and members of ex-service organisations,

The main gap identified concerns the support and services provided to families of serving and ex-serving members of the ADF. Family members expressed feeling excluded, left behind, and ignored, with services and support provided primarily at crisis point, if at all. These findings provided the impetus to create the Veteran Family Toolkit as an avenue for trusted information about mental health, and to provide hope that recovery is possible.

EPISODES :

Episode 1 : The Veteran Perspective
Episode 2: What is Mental Health?
Episode 3: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Episode 4: The Family Perspective
Episode 5:  Getting Help & PTSD Treatments

Chester Media Release – Accessible mental health support for veterans

THE Government today acknowledged the release of two reports from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) — the 2018 update on the Causes of death among serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force personnel: 2002–2015, and the National suicide monitoring of serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel.
download 16Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said the latest findings show those who choose to serve in the ADF are, on average, healthier than the general community. However, the findings also highlight the need to support the mental health of veterans, particularly those under 30.
“Our Government is putting veterans and their families first,” Mr Chester said.
“We are committed to supporting the physical and mental health of veterans and these reports provide a valuable contribution to our understanding of veterans’ health.
“We have taken significant steps in recent years to increase mental health support to our veterans, and our priority now is to enhance support to veterans during their transition period.
“Our Government provides more than $11.2 billion each year to deliver services and programs to support 290,000 veterans and their families, with $200 million spent on mental health alone.”

Eligible transitioning ADF members now automatically receive a DVA Health Card – Specific Conditions (White Card), which can be used to access treatment for any mental health condition, regardless of whether or not it is related to their service.
“This builds on the 2018–19 Budget measure, which expanded mental health treatment to eligible current and former Reservists without the need to link this condition to their service,” Mr Chester said.
“ADF personnel who receive a White Card for mental health treatment will not be required to make a claim with DVA to get treatment for mental health conditions—they can simply use their card to access treatment.”

women veterans anzac day 255661 1524533230888 main.640x0cADF veteran, Kellie Dadds who has been deployed eight times says the support will be valuable.
“This initiative will be welcomed by veterans who are transitioning from the ADF as it is another step easing the transition process. Knowing this support is available when required is pleasing and will ensure that veterans get treatment early should they need it,” Ms Dadds said.

Current and former ADF members transitioning to civilian life also have access to a comprehensive one-off health assessment with their general practitioner (GP).
“From 1 July 2019, all those leaving the ADF will be able to access an annual comprehensive health assessment by a GP for the first five years after they discharge,” Mr Chester said.
“This is a $2.1 million commitment from government and will assist in the early detection and treatment of mental and physical health concerns during transition to civilian life, addressing a high risk period for the emergence of mental health conditions and suicide.”

Mental health treatment provided through a White Card can include: consultations with a GP; psychiatrist; psychologist; mental health social worker or mental health occupational therapist; specialist PTSD programs; subsidised pharmaceuticals required to treat a condition, and hospital treatment. Health assessments can be accessed with a Medicare card.

Former ADF members who have already transitioned to civilian life can still access DVA funded treatment for any mental health condition through the use of a White Card by emailing the Department at [email protected]or calling 1800 555 254.
Eligible transitioning ADF members will receive their White Cards in the mail.

21 September 2018

‘It’s destroyed my life’: Hopes inquiry will back veterans’ claims anti-malaria drug caused illness

Veterans who believe their severe physical and mental health conditions were caused by anti-malaria medications given to them by the Army are hoping a senate inquiry will find enough evidence to back their claims.

Almost 20 years ago more than 3,000 troops were given the experimental drug tafenoquine, or the registered medication mefloquine, while on deployments in Timor-Leste and Bougainville.

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) told 7.30 it has received anti-malarial-related claims from 42 veterans.

Mefloquine, which is also known by the brand name Lariam, has been shown to cause neuropsychiatric side effects and has been linked to two veteran suicides.

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) and DVA recognises mefloquine can cause 14 conditions including depression, seizure, anxiety, schizophrenia and suicide.

Far fewer effects of tafenoquine are officially recognised.

In May, then-vice chief of the ADF, Ray Griggs, told a senate inquiry “its side-effects profile is much, much better than that of mefloquine”.

“There is no evidence that we know of that links it to neuropsychiatric conditions.”

‘It makes you feel real depressed’

10058256 3x2 340x227Speaking publicly for the first time, Army veteran Michael Bush told 7.30 about the severe impact he believes tafenoquine has had on his life after taking it in Timor-Leste.

The 40-year-old is unable to work after being diagnosed with chronic post-traumatic stress disorder, a form of schizophrenia and chronic gastrointestinal issues.

“For what they’ve done to my health … you can never buy that back, it’s destroyed my life,” he said.

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‘Help is available’

The Department of Defence declined 7.30’s interview request but said in a statement it was participating in the Senate inquiry and it would be inappropriate to comment while it was underway.

“It is important that public commentary on the issue is well-informed and reflects evidence-based research,” the statement said.

“This approach avoids misleading or adding to the anxiety of a broad group of people, including current and former serving ADF personnel and the general public who have used antimalarial treatments.

“These concerns have meant Defence has been careful and thorough in its response to claims made by individuals, so as to ensure outreach activities are underpinned by a sound public health approach.

“Most importantly, help is available to any current or former serving member or their family if they need support.”

DVA said it conducted a pilot outreach program for veterans in Townsville in 2016 and is considering further outreach activities.

RELATED STORYADF clears itself of wrongdoing over drug controversy

RELATED STORY: Defence force admits soldier shouldn’t have been included in anti-malaria drug trial

Heroes of the Homefront – Honouring Modern-Day War Widows

GWEN Cherne has never worn an army uniform or been involved in active service. But she has devoted decades of her life to the Australian Defence Forces because she loved a man who did.
Her husband, Peter Cafe, served in Cambodia, Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq. The suffering he saw left him so traumatised that he took his own life a year ago, leaving Ms Cherne a modern-day war widow.

Over more than a century, countless women like her have soothed their defence force husbands when they were distressed, fought for help when they struggled, and carried their families through grief and loss.

Chene Family
War widow Gwen Cherne with her children Lachlan and Emily Café

They have cared for children alone; picked up their lives to move from base to base; forced a smile when their partners left and wept on their return. But their sacrifice has never been officially recognised. Until now.

On International Women’s Day this Thursday, a coalition of groups led by the War Widows Guild will launch Women United By Defence Service, a campaign to raise awareness of women’s contribution in all its different forms.

Sergeant Peter Cafe took his own life a year ago after serving our country

They will highlight the sacrifice of the 218 women who died in war, the thousands that have served, the mothers, partners and daughters that have lost loved ones, and the women quietly soldiering on the home front.
The campaign will culminate in a dinner and ceremony in Canberra in September. Participating groups include the RSL, Legacy, and the Women Veterans’ Network.
Ms Cherne says she spent years in counselling to cope with the impacts of her husband’s PTSD — the depression, the anger, the paranoia. “It impacts on our children’s mental health and ours,” she says.
She knows many women in a similar position. “For some it’s financial or physical abuse, for some it’s having to walk around the house on eggshells, which is scary and hard and frustrating,” she said.

“PTSD leaves women widows years before their husbands die.”

Brendan Nelson, director of the Australian War Memorial, said women carried the burden of their partner’s long absences, psychological suffering and sometimes death, with little acknowledgment. “The courage comes in different forms,” he said. “I’ve witnessed that courage, and it has my utmost admiration.”

JORDAN BAKER, The Sunday Telegraph
March 3, 2018

INCIDENCE OF SUICIDE IN SERVING AND EX-SERVING AUSTRALIAN DEFENCE FORCE PERSONNEL: DETAILED ANALYSIS 2001–2015

This report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare quantifies the level of suicide among serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel and identifies factors that may be associated with suicide risk.
Between 2001 and 2015, there were 325 certified suicide deaths among people with at least 1 day of ADF service since 2001. Of these, 51% (166) were ex-serving at the time of their death, 28% (90) were serving full time and 21% (69) were in the reserves.

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TEHAN MEDIA RELEASE – $31 MILLION IN ADDITIONAL FUNDING FOR VETERAN MENTAL HEALTH

Today, the Turnbull Government commits an additional $31 million to support veterans as part of its response to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Reference’s committee report The Constant Battle: Suicide by veterans.

As the Prime Minister has said, we best honour the diggers of 1917 by ensuring our veterans in 2017 receive the support they need and deserve. When someone stops serving their country it is their country’s turn to start serving them.

READ  WHAT THE GOVERNMENT WILL PROVIDE

PTS 17 Forum – Radio Interviews of Noted Participants

 

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Steve Austin broadcast his ABC Radio 612 4QR Brisbane breakfast show from, the PTS Forum in Brisbane on 8th September 2017.  You can listen to the broadcast here
Steve is a respected and noted questioning and searching interviewer of his guests as you will hear. He has obviously researched the subject and asks searching questions that expose the facts of PTS on everyone.

He interviewed the following persons:
1. Kerri-Ann Welch (start at 22.15 minutes)

2. The White Cloud Foundation ( from 23.12 minute)

3. Dan Tehan (DVA Minister) (from 36.55 minute)

4. Tony Dell ( Principal Stand Tall) (from 53.55 minute)

5. Combat Stress (from 1 hour.01.26 minute)

6. Cameron & Melissa Smith. RAAF Veteran PTS husband and his wife relate their family experiences (from 1.07.00 minute)

7. Richard McLaren – RAAF Vietnam and after service a photographer of display Before/During/After Service (from 1.36.26 minute)

8. Stuart McCarthy & Prof Jane Quinn on neuro-toxic medications Mefloquine (from 1.45.10 minute and ends at 2.02.00)

9. AVM Tracy Smart Commander Joint Health and Surgeon General of the Australian Defence Force. (from 2.03.55) on resilience and questioned on Mefloquine,

10. Dr Justine Evans (Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation) and Dane Christison (Principal of Thrive to Survive Nation) (from 2. 14.15 to the end of the broadcast. This is a must listen to.interview that reveals Dane’s (a younger PTS veteran) self funded contribution to helping others. The RARA supports Dane’s Program

FIRST CAMP FOR CHILDREN OF VETERANS AFFECTED BY MENTAL ILLNESS

The first Kookaburra Kids Foundation camp for children of current and former Australian Defence Force (ADF) families affected by mental illness will take place this weekend.
The camp will give the children the opportunity to have fun in a supportive environment while also learning about mental illness and developing coping and resilience skills.
More than 30 children from the ACT region will participate in the camp which includes a range of activities led by qualified volunteer leaders.

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