Battle persists long after the war ends

Call for pTSD recognition
Call for pTSD recognition

For such people, the burden of the war, and its cruel legacy, persists long after the treaties are signed.

There were those too whose psyches were devastated. ‘Shellshock’ was first described in the early years of the Great War.

Men who had gone to war expecting a clean and noble enterprise found themselves in the trenches of northern France witnessing the young men with whom they had grown up being cut to pieces by flying steel, and apprehending daily the same fate for themselves.

It is not surprising that many such men sustained psychological collapse. It is more horrifying that many such were accused of malingering and some were even shot for cowardice.

We now know that shellshock is a form of post traumatic stress disorder.

According to the Vietnam Veterans Association (effects of PTSD) can include sleep disturbance, nightmares, flashbacks, emotional detachment, irritability, depression, avoidance of reminders associated with trauma, anxiety, panic attacks, headaches, stomach upsets, rashes, alcohol and other drug abuse.

Imagine how difficult returning home and having to address these issues, especially without professional help.

Imagine how hard and perplexing it must have been for the veteran’s loved ones, especially at a time when these symptoms were not readily understood or associated with exposure to the trauma of war?

The Partners of Veterans Association of WA has successfully lobbied State Parliamentarians to have a day set aside as a public awareness day for PTSD.

The motion passed with bipartisan support and the day set aside is the last Friday in May. It is hoped that the day will ultimately be observed nationally.

In the words of the Vietnam Veterans Association, we must ‘honour the dead but fight like hell for the living’.

This is an extract of |Girrawheen MLA Margaret Quirk’s Anzac Day speech.

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