Since 1999: 46 AUST soldiers killed on active service. 239 returned soldiers have taken their lives.
This is a shocking statistic.
This billboard is part of an awareness campaign launched this week by Walking Wounded.
Here's their media release.
29 January 2016
Soldier deaths on home soil greater than on battlefields
With figures revealing that more soldiers have died in Australia to suicide than on active service since 1999, Walking Wounded is urging Australians to recognise the plight of returned soldiers and help support the charity to grow its mentoring and counselling services nationwide.
The not for profit group was established in 2014 to support the psychological recovery of Australian soldiers and assist them in transitioning back into the community.
Brian Freeman, founder and CEO of Walking Wounded, said registers have revealed that since 1999, 46 soldiers have been killed on active service, and 239 veterans have taken their own lives.
“Life in the defence force is so far removed from that of the average Australian,” he said.
“When that way of life is taken away, for whatever reason, it’s a new battle that these soldiers face - one that can include homelessness, incarceration, family break-downs and sadly in the worst instances, suicide.
“At Walking Wounded we know if we can provide returning soldiers with early mentoring and counselling, we can help stop these issues from developing. And let’s be frank, what price do we put on a life, and indeed on someone that has been brave enough to serve our country?,” Mr Freeman said.
Mr Freeman’s aim for Walking Wounded is to achieve zero tolerance of veteran suicide.
“Soldiers have struggled for many years losing mates on the battlefields; we certainly shouldn’t be losing those we fought alongside, back on home soil.”
Walking Wounded launched its year-long campaign on Monday, dedicated to helping raise awareness of the plight of returned soldiers, and raise funds to help the service grow nationally. The campaign, which features ex soldiers who have taken their own lives, has been made possible with $1 million worth of advertising space donated by oOh! as part of the Out Of Home advertising company’s 2015 Million Dollar Pitch competition. The campaign is supported with creative from BCM and public relations from Red Agency on a pro-bono agreement.
Walking Wounded has also partnered with Sunny Queen Farms, raising funds for its services through the egg producer’s Eggs for Soldiers carton of eggs available in Coles.
For more information and to donate to Walking Wounded, visit www.walkingwounded.org.au
Walking Wounded certainly has strong backers.
On a quick desktop check it appears to have its house in order so far as structure is concerned.
It is registered as a Deductible Gift Recipient here.
Walking Wounded is looking for a high public profile and good on them for creating awareness of this tragedy. It's a shane that the former Chief of Army had the attention of the nation last Monday but couldn't bring himself to say something about the care of his soldiers. There's no shortage of bodies that pursue a "commitment to diversity" in this country, but there's only one army and one Chief of Army.
It beggars belief that until recently there was no register or record of suicides among returned servicemen and women. It took a returned serviceman Aaron Gray to shame the authorities into action by setting up the Veterans Suicide Register in July 2014.
Soldier On, Mates for Mates and I'm sure other organisations do their bit as well for returned service people as well.
But there's one group I'd like to single out for particular praise for their practical work on preventing suicides.. It's a private and very effective group for whom these losses are personal. The Royal Australian Regiment Brotherhood is a group of former and serving members of the regular army's infantry battalions and special forces. After the ABC and the Chief of Army got stuck into them over some private Facebook posts about our enemy they've tightened up considerably on their communications - and who could blame them? They now keep a very low profile, but I know from mates who are part of the brotherhood that a sizeable proportion of their time as a group is dedicated to looking out for mates at risk of suicide. And like good Australian soldiers, they're very practical, it's get in the car and go and see the person who's sounding a bit down - and nothing gets in their way.
ENDS - At least that's where my original post ended.
I wrote this post yesterday and was set to publish it when I received the email below from the PR company working with Walking Wounded.
It really disturbed me - so much so that I decided to sit on it overnight to make sure I wasn't being unfair or out of line on the issue of Morrison.
First here's a reminder of what Morrison said in his AOTY speech Monday night - from the ABC
ANDREW GREENE: On Monday night, retired lieutenant general David Morrison was a popular winner of the country's highest honour.
In accepting his award, the former army chief nominated three areas he would campaign for over the next 12 months.
The first was a pledge to continue the work of former winner Rosie Batty in combating the scourge of domestic violence, and the second to promote diversity in Australian society.
But it was his third nominated priority area that's angered many of his former military colleagues.
DAVID MORRISON: I will lend my voice to the Republican movement in this country. It is time, I think, to at least revisit the question.
GEOFF SHAFRAN: When you can get on at an Australia Day speech and discuss the republic and not allude to veterans' issues when he had I think it's 13 soldiers who were actually killed overseas while he was chief of army, it's just turning your back on these people.
ANDREW GREENE: Geoff Shafran served in the army for 20 years, and believes lieutenant general Morrison has upset many of the men and women he once commanded.
He's begun an online petition which has already attracted hundreds of signatures from veterans who share his views.
GEOFF SHAFRAN: It's actually calling for the, essentially the resignation of David Morrison as Australian of the Year, and also for him to relinquish the title of general because he, in my opinion, demonstrated a lack of leadership by not alluding to veterans' issues on his pre-Australia Day speech.
ANDREW GREENE: David Jamison is the president of the Defence Force Welfare Association.
He says his organisation has been inundated with correspondence from members who are angry at David Morrison's approach.
DAVID JAMISON: There seems to be a general view that perhaps he's gone too far in his quest for diversity and respect amongst ADF members who perhaps hold different views on lifestyles and religion and those sorts of issues.
He's perhaps causing division rather than unity within the ADF and the veteran community.
And here's the email from Red Agency on behalf of Walking Wounded. I think I'll give that interview a miss - for me nothing can make up for Morrison's performance on Monday and I'm surprised to see this pursuit of publicity with an apology for it.
Good evening Michael,
In response to the backlash that Australian of the Year David Morrison has faced from select veterans recently, regarding the priorities addressed in his acceptance speech, the Founder and CEO of Walking Wounded, a not for profit group that supports the psychological recovery of Australian soldiers and assists them in transitioning back into the community, has come out in support for the former Army Chief.
Having worked under David at varying times in his 20 year career, ex-serviceman Brian Freeman has backed Mr Morrison, saying he has been harshly criticised, and noting his ongoing support for Walking Wounded and families of the fallen over the years.
"Following a 40 year career serving for our country, David is a well deserving recipient of the Australian of the Year title," Mr Freeman said.
"David oversaw some of the worst years our defence personnel have ever endured, and I can guarantee experiences like that aren't quickly forgotten or dismissed.
"I can appreciate why some veterans would like to have seen the cause for returned soldiers highlighted in his Australia Day speech, however I believe he has been harshly criticised, and actions speak louder than words.
"David has always had an open door policy with me, and has been a solid supporter and advocate for Walking Wounded and families of the fallen.
"I have no doubt that David will continue to shine a spotlight on veterans over the coming twelve months in his newly appointed role, as he has done in the years leading up to this recognition."
Brian Freeman is available for further comment.
MEDIA CONTACT: Jackie
Jackie | Senior Account Manager
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