‘Open up old wounds’: Local veteran on Royal Commission announcement
‘Open up old wounds’: Local veteran on Royal Commission announcement

‘Open up old wounds’: Local veteran on Royal Commission

An inspiring Fraser Coast veteran and mental health advocate has weighed in on the impact of a national shift ahead of Anzac Day this Sunday, April 25.

It comes after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran suicide and Peter Dutton said he would overrule the decision to strip the Special Air Service (SAS) soldiers of medals.

Former Searching Commander Stix McGavin told the Chronicle the announcement was welcomed, but "it's sad it's taken this long".

"Being a return serviceman and having battled my demons with PTSD and having lost heaps of friends and former co-workers, it's very welcomed," Mr McGavin said.

"I would like to see some justice for some of my fellow soldiers who have not made it through this battle."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the royal commission on Monday, April 19, after a long-running campaign.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the royal commission on Monday, April 19, after a long-running campaign.

Noting each year there are "more suicides than we lost in the whole campaign," Mr McGavin is curious how the Royal Commission will work.

"It depends how they go about the Royal Commission, it will be interesting because they won't have time to go through everyone in depth of the lead up to their suicide," he said.

"If they've got to interview spouses ... It will be pretty detrimental to people and open up old wounds.

"In the build-up to post deployment training, they say it's going to be hard ... But, it's the integration back into society that's the hardest."

Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien, who has been an advocate for the commission and previously said he was willing to cross the floor, welcomed the decision.

He said we "have not been doing enough" for our veterans, and this was "one further step in the right direction."

"(Veterans) have been let down, (they) are twice as likely to take their own life as ordinary citizens," Mr O'Brien said.

"They have to live with the scars left by their service, and often struggle with PTSD and other mental health issues as a result, and their families and loved ones suffer alongside them.

"We all hope that this Royal Commission is the beginning of righting this terrible wrong, so our veterans can access the support they deserve and need."

If you need to speak to someone phone:

Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14

All-hours Support Line: 1800 628 036

Defence Family Helpline: 1800 624 608

Open Arms: 1800 011 046



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