War veterans in dire need

�I know in the past two or three months of at least a dozen guys who are sleeping in their cars near beaches in the metropolitan area, or have gone to the regions,� Daniel Fogarty, manager of Applecross-based charity Soldier On, said.

Mr Fogarty, a former Army medic who served in Timor, visits the men to offer help from the organisation to address mental health, financial and employment needs.

�It�s a combination of the beach providing some �peace and quiet� and it also being a place of last resort,� he said.

Fremantle, western and northern suburbs� beaches are favoured locations.

�Some have just gotten to the end of the line where they�ve lost their job, the money has dried up and there�s been relationship breakdowns,� Mr Fogarty said.

In 2008, before most soldiers returned from recent Middle East wars, it was estimated up to 3000 veterans of all conflicts were homeless across Australia each night.

A former combat engineer in his early 30s who did two Afghanistan War deployments has now lived in his car beside western suburbs� beaches for five months.

�He came back and said he was a changed person, increased his alcohol intake, got angry, lashed out and his relationship with his family broke down,� Mr Fogarty said.

Soldier On has connected the former engineer with the RSL, Legacy and other ex-|service organisations.

�He appreciates the help, but the funny thing is that, like most ex-servicemen, they always say there�s someone who�s worse off than them and they point you over to them,� Mr Fogarty said.

Solutions to veteran homelessness are complex, but include early intervention and education about the mental health effects of multiple overseas deployments, including tours conducted by special forces� members, including Swanbourne�s SAS.

Mr Fogarty said $300 million for national mental health care announced by Federal Government last week could have an effect if it reached the departments of Veteran�s Affairs or Defence which have responsibility for ex-soldiers� mental care.

n Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service: 1800 011 046.