Thousands of Australian Veterans Homeless!

The Invictus Games are held in Sydney Australia this week.

Sport is assessed as a means of helping those with injuries and mental health issues resultant from warfare.

Is this what they truly need or is this what men and women do to forget and take their minds off the reality of war and what they witnessed?

Lest we forget the root cause and possible solutions awaiting a decision to resolve the problem not hate the person (enemy). Can we resolve the root cause of war which causes injuries and mental health issues to both combatants and civilians?

The Royal trip costs Australians $474,137.  Refer https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/celebrity/the-cost-of-the-royal-visit-to-australia-revealed-20141009-113ydh.html

I note there are no costings on the Invictus Games as it is sponsored by the industrial-military complex.  According to the official website – tickets from $15 to $55 for a family.How many homeless veterans could be housed and treated medically with half a million dollars?

Prince Harry visited Dubbo and spoke of the mental health issues but in reference to farmers and mate ship.  I think the issue of war has to be confronted and its impact not only on soldiers but on civilians as they represent 90% of fatalities. The Invictus Games are sponsored by the military-industrial complex which are corporations that supply weapons to governments and others, thus profiting from war and the cause of injuries.

I used to clown with Veterans and met many over the years as a peace educator and spreading peace through humour.  They suffer greatly believing in the reasons they are sent to war.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute overview the arms databases to provide perspective into the extent this global industry is funded refer: https://www.sipri.org/databases

I saw statistics years ago that if 10% of expenditure on war was spent on education, health and public services it would impact on preventing war, as many wars (these days) are economic.  We have other issues of using national militaries to open markets e.g. oil industry which has been documented in the United States in respect of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.

The Department of Defence expenditure is listed in Entry Reports in respect of the Senate Order on Procurement Contracts 2017 Calendar Year.  Full data is overviewed in the blog on Defence spending.

Department of Defence CN15113 DHA – CENTRAL OFFICE 72968504934 RENT PAYMENT TO DHA UP TO FY 2017/18 AND ANNUITY PROPERTY PAYMENTS (GAPS ID: 1603888) Real estate services
20-Jul-06 12-Jul-06 30-Jul-18 =5,253,600,000.00

Rental Payments for Defence Housing total $5,253,600,000.  Why can this money not be used to help homeless veterans and/or those experiencing trauma and injuries?

Expenditure on housing Australian Defence Industry Mnister Christopher Pyne indicates the Liberal Party’s goal of Australia becoming a major arms exporter refer https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/jul/17/pyne-wants-australia-to-be-major-arms-dealer-but-vows-not-to-export-weapons-willy-nilly.

The root cause of wars in the Middle East is about oil and gas https://www.globalresearch.ca/middle-eastern-wars-have-always-been-about-oil/5510640

Homelessness is a national tragedy despite what people ‘do’, it is who we are that matters.  Anyone can become homeless as it is not about money but indifference to those vulnerable.

1 in 20 Homeless People Surveyed Are Military Veterans: New Study

1 in 20 Homeless People Surveyed Are Military Veterans:
New Study

By Clare BruceTuesday 24 Apr 2018

Knowing that more than 116,000 Australians are homeless, is sad enough. But learning that 1 in 20 of them could be Australian Defence Force veterans, is downright upsetting. It’s one of the findings from The State of Homelessness in Australia’s Cities report, released by the Centre for Social Impact at the University of Western Australia.Research has been going on since 2010, in which homelessness services, mostly in our inner cities, have interviewed more than 8,000 people who don’t have a home—including those sleeping on the streets.The study has found that 1 in 20 of the 8,370 homeless people interviewed over the past eight years, were ex-military personnel. That’s a huge five percent. Most of those people (close to 400) were men. About 15 per cent (71 people) were women.

It’s Time for Action, Says Mission Australia

Young homeless man

In light of these findings, Mission Australia is this week taking some of the Anzac Day spotlight, to push for better Government commitment to housing and support services for returned servicemen and women.

CEO of the charity, James Toomey, says they often take calls for help from former defence personnel—“too many”, he said. He explained that mental and social challenges resulting from their service to the nation, leave them vulnerable.

“Many returned veterans struggle to adjust to post-war life and can suffer physical impairments and mental illness such as post-traumatic stress disorder,” he said. “It’s a sad reality that this can lead to financial stress, difficulty maintaining employment, domestic violence, substance misuse and family breakdown. All of which leaves them at a greater risk of homelessness.”

There are many complex factors involved, including not only the trauma that veterans have experienced in wartime deployment, but also the shame and embarrassment they feel around reaching out for help when their lives are falling apart.

Man Drinking

Driven to drink: PTSD, combined with addictions, are factors leading to veteran homelessness.

The study has also shown that veterans are more likely to have physical disability, and to report experienced brain injury or head trauma, than other people experiencing homeless.

“These are people who deserve a dignified life, but too often they find themselves sleeping rough or in unstable accommodation,” Mr Toomey said. “We know that often they leave hospitals, work, accommodation and even their own families and become homeless. These are people who have committed themselves to the service of their country who are now left to tackle a range of personal concerns without a safe place to call home.”

Mr Toomey wants to see better collaboration between government departments to develop long-term solutions. He is calling for funding towards the issue in the next Federal Budget.

“It’s urgent that the government takes action to reduce homelessness for our veterans and the 116,000 men, women and children experiencing homelessness on any given night,” he said.

https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/celebrity/the-cost-of-the-royal-visit-to-australia-revealed-20141009-113ydh.html

Thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans homeless

Friday 6 March 2015 10:18AM
Homeless veterans

They’re meant to be war heroes, yet thousands of Australian diggers are sleeping on the streets. The federal government and the states can’t agree who is responsible for funding housing, and support groups for veterans are warning a crisis is brewing. Cathy Van Extel investigates.

Homeless agencies and support groups for veterans are warning of a growing number of former soldiers in crisis as they struggle to adapt to civilian life after their traumatic experiences on the front line.

One such veteran is Matt Vawdrey, who enlisted in the Army in 2005 and served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Not long after returning from his last Middle East deployment in 2011, Mr Vawdrey, 32, left the Army to spend more time with family and carve out a civilian career managing a business in Sydney. He succeeded for 18 months, but then the post traumatic stress hit.

Entire families are being affected by this and I think if the Australian public knew that we had young soldiers with war-caused mental illness sleeping in cars with their wife and daughter, they’d be justifiably outraged. But that is what is happening.

GEOFF EVANS, RSL LIFE CARE

‘In a span of about two weeks I went downhill pretty quickly. [I] tried to take my life at one point due to the stresses and not knowing what was going on,’ says Mr Vawdrey.

‘I was having trouble sleeping, had hyper-vigilance 24/7. Combine that with work and it just became too much.’

Mr Vawdrey was hospitalised seven times. His relationship broke down, and he lost the family business and an investment property. His ex-partner and their children—aged 13, nine and six—remained in the family home.

‘I couldn’t afford at that time to pay for a residence myself so I had to sleep in the car,’ he says.

Mr Vawdrey was homeless for five months until another veteran helped him into crisis accommodation in the middle of last year.

Geoff Evans is a former commander who served in Iraq and then Afghanistan, where he was wounded in action in 2010. He is the Younger Veterans Adviser for RSL Life Care, an accommodation and care provider for the elderly which uses spare capacity to offer temporary homes and support services to younger veterans in crisis.

It is Australia’s only dedicated homeless veterans program, with 32 veterans aged between 24 and 54 currently involved. Those being assisted include two female former soldiers and two families.

Mr Evans says the majority of them have seen active service and are in pressing need.

‘I’ve got nine who have come straight from psychiatric hospital. All have ongoing, usually chronic, mental health conditions and/or physical injuries,’ he says.

‘Entire families are being affected by this and I think if the Australian public knew that we had young soldiers with war-caused mental illness sleeping in cars with their wife and daughter, they’d be justifiably outraged. But that is what is happening.’

In 2009, when the last national Homeless Veterans Survey was conducted, there were 3,000 veterans without a home.

Since then, up to 40,000 troops have been deployed to the Middle East in various capacities.

This week the Abbott government committed to sending a further 300 soldiers to Iraq.

Organisations like Homelessness NSW and Homeground Services in Victoria estimate homeless veterans represent 8 to 12 per cent of their entire homeless population. In NSW alone there are 25,000 homeless people.

Mr Evans says there are lessons that can be drawn from the experience of Vietnam veterans.

‘Most [Vietnam] veteran cases didn’t present to the Department of Veterans Affairs until they were in their late thirties and early forties, and they all went to war when they were in their early twenties,’ he says.

‘So there can be a time lag of 15 to 20 years and that doesn’t mean people aren’t suffering. It just means it takes that long for them to fall over completely before they reach out for help.

‘Early intervention is crucial with mental health but for so many, far too many, it’s already too late.’

Mr Evans is concerned that this new generation of soldiers will follow a similar path to the Vietnam veterans.

‘Most people in Australia know what happened to the Vietnam generation in terms of mental breakdown, mental health, alcoholism [and] suicide,’ he says.

‘My generation of soldiers is going down the same road and it’s a national tragedy that we just can’t let happen again.

‘Whilst there were 55,000 Vietnam veterans, there are actually 67,000 contemporary veterans. So the scale of the problem we’re facing is potentially much larger.’

Supporting the RSL Life Care homeless veterans program is Soldier On, a community-based organisation that runs reintegration and recovery centres around Australia.

According to Solider On CEO John Bale, himself a recently retired army officer, soldiers who return from deployments are not being supported by the community.

‘Not because the community doesn’t care; that’s clearly not the case,’ he says.

Mr Bale says there’s a lack of awareness about the impact deployments to Afghanistan, East Timor and Iraq have on soldiers, and the Department of Veterans Affairs is only just starting to acknowledge the homelessness problem.

‘It will only get worse if we don’t have the safeguards at the community level to put in place now.’

Mr Evans is calling on federal and state governments to address housing for veterans.

He points out that many veterans sleeping rough will check themselves into hospital when they’ve had enough. Hospital is not an affordable solution, however, and costs the government up to $1,000 a day.

‘I can house them for a year for $20,000 but DVA won’t pay for it,’ Mr Evans says. ‘Unfortunately [The Department of] Veterans Affairs views housing as a state issue, and states view veterans affairs as a federal issue.

‘We’re in there trying to bridge the gap and pick up the pieces.’

A number of homelessness agencies and veterans support groups from around Australia met in Sydney this week to start developing a national response to the problem.

However, the homeless sector is gripped by funding uncertainty ahead of the May Budget. The Abbott government has made no commitment to ongoing support of the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness and current funding ends in June.

Melbourne-based Homeground Services CEO Heather Holst believes a response to veterans homelessness needs to be driven by the federal government.

‘There needs to be an overarching framework, very much like there is in the US. That’s something the US is doing a lot better than us,’ she says.

In the United States, an estimated 50,000 war veterans are without a home on any given night.

In 2009, the Obama administration committed to ending veteran homelessness in the US by the end of 2015.

Since then the number of former servicemen and women without a home has been cut by a third and there’s a renewed push underway to achieve the original ambitious target.

Addressing this week’s meeting of homelessness agencies and support groups for veterans in Sydney was Suzanne Wagner, principal of New York-based Housing Innovations, an organisation which provides advice to policy makers and NGOs around homelessness.

She says the US was late coming to the issue and underestimated the extent of the problem.

‘We were reacting to a problem. We looked up and had 100,000 veterans. We had a big problem and we had to solve that problem.

‘What I think you have the opportunity to do is be proactive about it.’

Ms Wagner says Australia should consider housing for veterans when they retire from service.

For Matt Vawdrey, the next challenge is to move from temporary accommodation into the private rental market.

He’s calling on the federal government to come to the aid of the nation’s diggers.

We need government to stand up and put their hands in their pocket and actually deliver on helping the veterans who supported this country, fought for this country, and are now becoming homeless due to their war wounds.’

RN Breakfast is the show the nation’s political class wakes up to. Start each day with comprehensive coverage and analysis of national and international events, and interviews with the leaders and thinkers that matter.

Mohandas Gandhi

“Gentleness, self-sacrifice and generosity are the exclusive possession of no one race or religion.”

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