Yesterday I was in an East Timor SASR veteran's home for a few beers along with some other diggers.
Each man had several tales of woeful, bureaucratic indifference from Australia's Department of Veterans Affairs.
These men wrote out a cheque to Australia made out to the value of their life - knowing that cheque might be cashed at any time.
There are photos of my SAS mate's wall of him pointing to the bullet holes in his vehicle after it was ambushed. He's lucky to be alive - but we're luckier still that blokes like him and his mates serve for us.
This morning another East Timor veteran, Ashley Smith wrote to me with another example of the DVA bureaucracy feeding on itself and our returned men.
Firstly - here's Ashley when he gave his "young and strong and keen" years to the service of Australia.
Our government is pretty shameless when it comes to photo opportunities to show what a great job it's doing.
And there's no doubt that service dogs are a tremendous boon for people with war-service related injuries and conditions like Ashley.
Ash has PTSD.
Part of his treatment involves getting out and about and connecting with people. The alternative for many blokes used to be cuddling up to a bottle in a cheap rented room.
Everything was panning out well for Ash until his knee started playing up.
I don't know how someone can serve in the army for 11 years and not have both their knees buggered.
Look at the photos above and think about the weight blokes carry. Then think about 11 years of "Run, down, crawl, observe, aim, fire".
Eleven years of "On Parade" every morning, "Answer your name! Smith?"
Lift 'em up 8 inches and drive them down 12 men!!!!!!!!
So Ashley has ended up with at least one buggered knee.
Only DVA says it's not their problem.
And nor, apparently, is it their problem that Ashley could do with a mobility scooter to keep him in contact with the outside world.
His psych says he needs one for his DVA recognised PTSD related conditions.
But DVA has told him to go to buggery.
Like most diggers, Ash isn't just concerned about himself.
Here's the note he wrote to me this morning.
This isn't just about myself, its about making sure this never happens to any other veterans with service/assistance dogs that help them with their PTSD, that have been incapacitated due to service recognised physical injuries.
The government will only give mobility scooters or electric wheel chairs to veterans that have war/war like service injuries only. My right leg/knee operation isn’t, but it is an accepted condition under DVDs Acts/policys and guidelines as non war/war like injuries.
But my PTSD, Anxiety and Depression is war/war like injuries. I'm also on a SRDP - DVA Gold Health card which they don't give out randomly unless you are totally permanently incapacitated.
The Minister for Veterans Affairs is Darren Chester.
@mpsmithnews This isn't just about myself, its about making sure this never happens to any other veterans with service/assistance dogs that help them with their PTSD, that have been incapacitated due to service recognised physical injuries.https://t.co/YBmZ8XlslC— Ashley Smith (@Wingslider99) August 10, 2018
Ashley was kind enough to give me this update this morning.