Homeless vets living at beach

Soldier On WA manager Daniel Fogarty. Picture: Marcus Whisson d436339
Soldier On WA manager Daniel Fogarty. Picture: Marcus Whisson d436339

�I know in the past 2-3 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,� Soldier On WA manager Daniel Fogarty said.

Mr Fogarty, a former Army medic who served in Timor, visits the men for the 2012-established charity that fills mental health, financial and work gaps created by delayed reactions to armed service.

�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 got 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.

Mr Fogarty said while appreciative, the soldier was more concerned to point him to others in a worse situation. 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 responsible for ex-soldiers� mental care.