A Diggers viewpoint of being at the sharp end. Gained while serving with 3 Platoon - 'A' Company -7 Battlion (Infantry) Royal Australian Regiment, as a Rifleman in Australia's longest ever war - fought in South Vietnam.  

Chapter 5 - Page 25 - Updated January 2008 - Next Page:- 26/35

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 [end of tour 22] [my army service 23] [my case 24] [PTSD 25]



See below for the following stories:-

  • new21.gifPAGE & new Material 
  • A Personal Comment
  • Veteran Entitlement Act
  • A Time Long Past or Back To The Future?
  • P.TSD
  • The Family
  • The Missing Years
  • National Centre for War-Related PTSD.
  • The Image is BA, before Army and not effected by PTSD




People who have no idea what it is like to put your life on the line every day for your country. People perhaps who's idea of stress was that the air conditioning was not working? People who absolutely have no idea what a Digger in Vietnam went through. Or for that matter what modern day Diggers have to face in Iraq and Afghanistan. Or even having any empathy for the Veteran's present day health and condition and their way of life. At times filled with thoughts of ending it all. It is my belief that the department charged to helping the Veterans and the ex service people; are their greatest adversary.

Here we are in the eighth year of the 21st Century; the 90th anniversary of the end of the Great War and this Country's Government continues to send our young men and women out to fight. Yet at the same time they stab them in the back by eroding the safe guards put in place all those years ago so that anyone who did Serve this Nation as a soldier, airman or sailor could rely on getting the best help they deserve when and if they were wounded on the Battlefield or fell ill because of that service.

However thanks perhaps to those who advise the John Howard Government, he having no Members of Parliament who have served at the sharp end. Or understand what it is like to wear this Country's Uniform with Pride and be in danger every day of their deployment, our sick and ill Service and ex-Service members are treated with contempt. Except on ANZAC Day perhaps when all those who would spit on our warriors, seek to rub shoulders with them so that some of the respect might fall their way? This year sees a new Government only time will tell if the past practices are to be continued?

How contemptuous it is of these people, who work on the floor of Parliament and back rooms; denying our warriors of the support and help that this Nation rightly owes them for their sacrifice. Yet at the same time, think they have a right to share the limelight on such an important day like ANZAC DAY. It totally beggars belief that these people would sink so low. Do you know that the important distinction of being 'wounded in action' has been removed from the modern description of a soldier hurt by the enemy? That it is relegated to an innocuous 'injured'. Just as if a soldier was like any other employee who might twist an ankle at work.

Believe me being wounded by a mine blast is a lot different than twisting an ankle at work? To remove such titles from the lexicon of war fare, trying to convince people that life on the Battle Field is like any other work place is ridiculous and obscene! The people who made submissions to the government to this end should be named, exposed and shamed.

Veteran Entitlement Act

To give those who do not know about the Repatriation system in Australia some background to its formation, I quote Prime Minister Billy Hughes from the time of World War One. "You go and fight", he said "and when you come back we will look after your welfare". He added, "We have entered into a bargain with the soldiers and we (the Australian people) must keep it".

This contract unique anywhere in the world, these days is formalised by an ACT called the Veteran Entitlement Act. However these days the DVA staffed by people who have never served their country in any capacity. Who work very hard to prevent ill and disabled Veterans getting their entitlements. Even to the extent of trying to change the law to favour the DVA against the Veteran.


"Some, indeed, came out of this inferno of war apparently unscathed; the bounding vitality of youth for the time triumphed over the fearful shocks and strain of war. As the honourable member for Reid, and others, have said, when the war was over, they made haste to throw off their soldiers tunic and put on the jacket of a civilian, thanking God they had been spared, and resolved to put all thoughts of the horrors they had endured behind them.

For three, five or perhaps ten years, they pursued their various civilian vocations, apparently hale and strong and then with startling abruptness comes the end. Their strength oozes from them, their youth passes, they are broken men. The expectation of life at the age of twenty-four years, which we assume was the average age men of the Australian Imperial Force, is forty-three and a half. The average death rate at thirty-five, that is eleven years after the Armistice- is forty-five per-thousand; but the men of the AIF are dying at the rate of seventy-five per thousand. The war is still doing its deadly work, but then again, how many of them are below par? They are still far from old but they are getting toward middle-age.

Disease takes a thousand shapes, some of the men develop Locomotor Ataxia; some tubercular trouble, but these maladies are due to one thing - a lowering of vitality. The nervous force has been reduced until the men no longer have the power to resist disease. Their war service has prematurely aged them.

If a civilian, subjected to a similar strain in the course of his employment, sued his employer, no doctor in Australia would say other than that the ills from which the man was suffering were due to that cause. The onus of proof is placed on the unfortunate ex-soldier, although it takes the best of us, in the days of vigorous health, to prove anything before a Court of Law or other Tribunal.

These poor men, suffering the effects of the great strain of war service, goes before a Tribunal and because he cannot prove what no doctor on earth can prove, or disprove, REDRESS IS DENIED HIM.

This is a speech made by the Prime Minister, Billy Hughes (the Little Digger) in the House of Representatives, on 21st March 1929. (Hansard) His speech refers to Veterans of the Great War (WW1) but he could easily have been describing the condition of the many World War Two, Korea, Malaya, Borneo, Vietnam, Gulf War, Iraq, Afghanistan and Peacekeeping Veterans that have served this Nation. This article was first published in the Newsletter of the Vietnam Veterans Federation.



P.T.S.D. Those few letters that mean so much to Veterans and their families, as it takes over your whole life. Some of the symptoms of PTSD are:- Anxiety: Depression: Sleep Disturbance: Hypersensitivity: Irritability: Negative Beliefs: Intrusive Thoughts (about the trauma) Avoidance: Social Withdrawal: Hyper arousal: Communication Skills (poor).

If you are reading this and feel that these symptoms describe you, do something about it., There is help these days, all it takes is a phone call or an email.


One part of the Veteran suffering PTSD that seems to be forgotten is the effect on the family. The long suffering wife who in many marriages have put up with the Veteran "being changed after Vietnam". With her trying to deal with it, all in silence  not talking to family or friends for many years as the Veteran denies that there is any thing wrong with him. There are many Veterans out there who have the wife to thank for them getting by on a day to day basis.

As she takes on most of the responsibility of running the house hold and bringing up the children. The PTSD of the Vet also effects the children that continues when the child grows up. This has been recognised in Australia with kids being able to get help from the VVCS for counseling.

Another part of suffering from PTSD is not understanding what is going on so you begin to doubt your own sanity. I did. I thought I was going mad. More than once I was called "nuts" by people that around me. I could not blame them.

Why would anyone hearing a noise at night load a rifle and 'patrol' around the house checking doors and windows, with out turning the lights on, then in to the back yard again with out lights checking out 'things', then go back to bed and unload the rifle and put the magazine away. Only to do it again when another noise was heard and think this behaviour was 'normal?' Well it was normal to me. It was what I was trained for.

It was what I knew. I was on my own terms using my skills to protect my family. This was in the late 1970s and early 1980s when we lived in the corner of a small village without any near by homes. It was soon apparent to me that getting rid of the weapon was a better option than 'going on patrol'. So I sold it and have not owned a weapon for over 20 years.

Thankfully I am now getting help from some understanding doctors and dealing with why Vietnam is still a big part of my life, some 30 years later. Hence this Homepage is a big part of sorting my life out. To others, Vietnam might be old history but to me it is ever present.

This is not the end of the story at this stage in 2008 Australia is involved in the War in Iraq and in action in Afghanistan there will be many soldiers who will return damaged. I commit I will assist in any way I am able either through the RSL or Vietnam Veteran Organisations. What ever the political feelings about that war those soldiers should not be treated as we were when we came home nor should they have to endure so long before they get help, if they require it.


The following is an information sheet put out by the National Centre for War-Related PTSD.


# Distressing memories or images of the incident(s) # Nightmares of the event or other frightening themes # Flashbacks ( reliving the event(s)) # Becoming upset when reminded of the incident(s) # Physical symptoms; such as sweating,heart racing, or muscle tension when reminded of the event(s).


# Trying to avoid any reminders of the trauma, such as thoughts, feelings, conversations, activities, places, and people # Gaps in memory - forgetting parts of the experience.
# Losing interest in normal activities # Feeling cut-off or detached from loved ones.
# Feeling flat or numb # Difficulty imagining a future.


# Sleep disturbance # Anger and irritability # Concentration problems # Constantly on the look-out for signs of danger # Jumpy, easily startled. 


ANXIETY:- # Apprehension, fearfulness, or terror # Shortness of breath and tightness in the chest # Palpitations and increased heart rate # Sweating # Shaking, trembling, or dizziness # Fear of losing control or going crazy # Excessive worry # Feeling restless and on edge.
# Muscle tension # Physical disorders; skin complaints, stomach upsets aches and pains.


# Loss of sexual interest # Thoughts of suicide/death # Lack of energy, easily tired # Feeling low, down in the dumps, miserable # Lack of appetitive and weight loss # Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much # Poor concentration, poor memory, and poor decision making # Loss of interest and pleasure in normal activities # Lack of enthusiasm, difficulties with motivation # Feelings of worthlessness, helplessness, and hopelessness


Impact on Relationships:- The feelings of detachment, difficulty in expressing emotion, and persistent irritability, which are frequently part of PTSD, can all impact negatively on relationships with the family.


IMPACT ON WORK:- Problems such as irritability, mood swings, poor concentration, and memory disturbance can often interfere with the veteran's capacity to work effectively. Alternatively, the veteran may use a "workaholic" pattern as a way of attempting to avoid the unpleasant memories.

If you can relate to these symptoms you should be seeking help from an appropriate source. 



Want more information? Need to talk to someone?

The Viet Nam Veterans Counseling Service (VVCS) may be able to assist.

Free call 1800 011 046 - Most States

1800 043 503 - NSW

1800 019 332 - North Qld  



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