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Army September 13, 2012
6Wounded forum focuses
Soldiers converge on Canberra to help shape future support
Cpl Nick Wiseman
MORE than 100 soldiers, families
and guests met with the Army's
senior leaders and service providers
at the third annual CA Wounded,
Injured and Ill Digger Forum in
Canberra on September 12.
This year's forum focused on men-
tal health injuries and the treatment,
rehabilitation and recovery from the
perspective of members and their fam-
CA Lt-Gen David Morrison said
the forum would improve support to
members suffering from mental health
"It will provide a better under-
standing of the complexity of mental
health issues affecting members, fami-
lies and commanders," he said.
Defence Science and Personnel
Minister Warren Snowdon said the
forum emphasised the valuable contri-
bution participants made in improving
the system and establishing a legacy
for soldiers who may be wounded,
injured or ill in the future.
"The forum provides an excellent
opportunity to ensure we listen and
learn from our people to continuously
improve and maintain a comprehen-
sive and integrated approach to the
support of the personnel and their
family," he said.
WO2 A, of Socomd, was diag-
nosed with Post Traumatic Stress
Disorder (PTSD) in 2009 after a
deployment to Afghanistan. He said
he knew from the exposure he had
that everything was not all right.
"It wasn't until I was formally
diagnosed in 2009 and those words
came out that it sunk in," he said.
WO2 A said the forum had been
very informative, with a lot of infor-
mation covered in a very short period.
"There will be positive outcomes
from it and if anything it will break
down the cultural barrier of PTSD
and how it's managed in the work-
place," he said.
"Listening to other people in the
room and what they've gone through
has been an experience by itself."
WO2 A was accompanied to the
forum by his wife, who said there
was no shame in taking care of one's
"We felt really alone at first, but
you're not alone," she said.
"These injuries are not unusual
given the scenarios a lot of the sol-
diers have been through so don't feel
isolated, just reach out, the help is
For more information go to
'It wasn't until later
that I realised there
was a problem'
Cpl Nick Wiseman
"IF MORE people are prepared to come
out and say 'I had a mental health injury
but I've now rehabilitated' it would be
another brick out of that wall of silence,"
according to former 7RAR platoon com-
mander Capt Ash Judd.
Several months after returning from
combat operations in Afghanistan his
life started spiralling out of control, cul-
minating in him seeking assistance after
realising he had fallen victim to Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
"I deployed as part of the 7RAR bat-
talion group from October 2008 through
to June 2009," he said.
"During that time I was involved in
direct combat on a number of occasions,
but I can't say exactly what the trigger
was for my injury."
During his time in Afghanistan, Capt
Judd did not think much about the long-
term repercussions that could affect him
and focused 100 per cent on the job at
He said even after returning to
Australia for a few months he was feel-
ing great and didn't give PTSD a second
"I had been on combat operations
overseas which, while dangerous, was
quite a rush," he said.
"It wasn't until later that I developed
the self-awareness to realise there was
a problem and by that time I had done a
bit of damage to myself."
Although not noticing his symp-
toms straight away, people around him,
including his partner and workmates,
had noticed changes in his behaviour.
Capt Judd said it had been a delicate
balance of people not wanting to come
down hard or punish, as they knew
something was amiss.
"I sought help after that initially
am now almost
100 per cent
-- Capt Ash Judd, HQ 2 Div
A WORD FROM THE CHIEF
I FEEL that while we have made signifi-
cant progress in the care and manage-
ment of our physically injured, we need
to do more work in support of those
carrying mental health injuries. At the
forum, I heard a constant theme that
soldiers felt there was a stigma associ-
ated with mental health problems. I
intend to tackle this head-on by champi-
oning awareness of mental health injury
and promoting the fact that there are
many soldiers who have successfully
recovered and who are pursuing full and
rewarding careers in the Army.
-- Lt-Gen David Morrison
Show of support: DCA Maj-Gen Angus Campbell opens the Wounded,
Injured and Ill Digger Forum in Canberra.
Photo by Cpl Nick Wiseman
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