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At least 15 ex-servicemen have committed suicide since Christmas in the terrible hidden toll of war

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At least 15 ex-servicemen have committed suicide since Christmas in the terrible hidden toll of war

A GOLD Card for a troubled soldier to cover the cost of his medical expenses for life was issued the day after he committed suicide last year.

 

The Digger had returned from a deployment where he suffered post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as physical injuries.

 

His widow declined a request for an interview with the Herald Sun, and asked that the Digger's name not be published.

 

But it has been claimed his ongoing battle with the Department of Veterans' Affairs to be upgraded from a White Card - which offers only a limited form of medical cover - compounded his PTSD.

 

The revelation emerged as a Herald Sun investigation found the veterans community in Brisbane is reeling from 11 suicides since Christmas, including former soldiers returned from Somalia, Rwanda, Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan.

 

They take them away, they break them, then they give them back to us.

 

Two ex-servicemen from Victoria, one from Sydney and one from Western Australia are also known to have taken their lives since the start of the year.

 

Veterans' advocates say the tragic tally is a fraction of a hidden blight unrecorded by authorities and highlights serious inadequacies in the DVA's bureaucratic claims process, which often stretches veterans' battles for compensation out to two years.

 

The DVA keeps no figures on suicides of past servicemen and women. It told the Herald Sun that it "aims to deal with all claims as efficiently as possible to ensure minimal impact on the individual".


 But another widow who lost her ex-Digger husband to suicide said resources to support ex-soldiers were insufficient. Once soldiers such as her husband left the defence force, they became lost souls, she said.

 

"They take them away, they break them, then they give them back to us," the widow said.

 

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