New Tableland support group to help young veterans and families find their feet

This story was written by The Cairns Post's Michael Serenc and published in the newspaper on Friday, February 2015.

A SUPPORT group designed to help young veterans ease back into civilian life is gathering steam on the Atherton Tableland.

Established last month, Duty of Care is reaching out to disaffected Tableland veterans – and their families – who are struggling with combat-related issues following service overseas.

Duty of Care secretary Ian Mackay said depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and relationship breakdowns were some of the issues veterans faced when they returned home.

“You get a guy that’s been in the army 10 years, who’s used to working with his mates over a long period of time, and the day he walks out, he virtually starts a brand new life,” he said.

“They really don’t get that support from the government.

“We’ve got guys that have been waiting 20 weeks or even 14 months for a service payout that has been signed off, but the finance department just sits on it.

“That’s a disturbing thing because they really need money that they’re entitled to get from their superannuation.”

The group was founded by Community Services Tablelands CEO Gillian Long after a meeting with veterans and former commander of Australian ­forces in Afghanistan, retired Major-General John Cantwell, in Yungaburra on Remembrance Day last year.

Duty of Care works with CST to provide support for veterans and their families.

“We’ve got about 16 members now and we’re not even a month old,” Mr Mackay said.

“We’re trying to get together a group that can talk to these young guys and do just about everything we can to help them out in relation to finding them education, ­looking for work and all the little things that no one else does.”

According to the ADF, there have been 96 recorded suicides of serving personnel since 2000 and 13 veteran suicides.

Mr Mackay estimated there were about 400 young veterans living on the Tableland, who had served everywhere from Somalia to Afghanistan.

For more information on Duty of Care, call Community Services Tablelands on 4091 3850.

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