Veterans’ plea: PM, have the guts to help us

Furious veterans plan to pile on to the steps of Parliament House in Canberra on Monday to pressure Prime Minister Scott Morrison to "do the right thing" and launch an investigation into the deaths of their fallen mates.

Nothing short of a royal commission will appease the thousands of men and women who are demanding change.

A mate’s tribute to Daniel Cruse (left and far right), who suicided last week.
A mate’s tribute to Daniel Cruse (left and far right), who suicided last week.

Just last week a 32-year-old former able seaman in the Australian Navy became one of 18 veterans to take their own life in the past three months.

Daniel Cruse, affectionately known as Crusey, served for six years in the Australian Navy.

"He didn't show any kind of real symptoms of going down this path," one of his former navy crewmates, who asked not to be named, said.

"In the last few weeks he was having struggles and everyone was checking on him. There is always a link to time served," the veteran said.

"When you're in the military we get told to just keep on going. A lot of us, myself included, we get trained to just tough it out.

"When you're at sea nothing stops, you've got to keep moving, keep going.

"Once you get out you're not in that controlled environment and you don't know how to adapt, to relate to other people.

"Anyone who goes to sea, it ­affects your mental state for the rest of your life."

Julie-Ann Finney wants a royal commission.
Julie-Ann Finney wants a royal commission.

 

Navy engineer David Finney suicided after a battle with PTSD.
Navy engineer David Finney suicided after a battle with PTSD.

Crusey's mates and hundreds of other veterans and their families will have all eyes on Canberra on Monday as Mr Morrison shows where he stands on the issue of supporting Australia's veterans.

A motion put forward in the Senate on Thursday urged the government to establish a royal commission into the rate of suicide among current and former serving Australian Defence Force personnel.

It was backed by Labor and the Greens, as well as One Nation leader Pauline Hanson, and will go to the lower house tomorrow.

A government spokesman said Mr Morrison would reveal his position on calling a royal commission when the vote is put to the House of Representatives.

Julie-Ann Finney, who lost her son - navy veteran David Finney - to suicide, has been pushing for a royal commission for two years.

"This time the government has to come clean and ensure that a royal commission is a full, open and transparent investigation," she told The Sunday Telegraph.

"No more spin, no more trying to placate us with mother's medals, ­forums, inquiries, reviews and committees. Many need to be held accountable for their actions, and if guilty they must not be able to act in their current capacity in the future.

"The ADF is supposed to protect their members, not make them, break them and discard them.

"I have been fighting, as have hundreds of others, for two years now. I believed asking for a full investigation into my son's death was a given. Instead I find cover-ups, rorts, spin and lies have made up the conversation regarding our veterans."

More than 397,250 Australians have signed her petition calling for the royal commission. To add your name to the list go to: www.change.org/p/a-royal-commission-into-the-veteran-suicide-rate-in-australia

Originally published as Veterans' plea: PM, have the guts to help us



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