Gold Card Access Returned From Active Service Veterans
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There is currently a disconnect with what former members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) can receive access to the Veterans Affairs Gold Card. Although former ADF members who served overseas on Active Service after 1 July 2004 are automatically covered, former members under the age of 70 and who served in a designated Active Service environment prior to 2004 are not covered.
In essence, any ADF veteran who served in an Active Service capacity between the end of the Vietnam War and I July 2004 are being discriminated against as they do not have the same entitlements of other Active Service veterans.
Until recently, ADF personnel returning from Active Service were treated very badly. In my example, I suffered psychological issues for a number of years and sought assistance from my unit commanders. One commander actually said 'dry your eyes, princess' before telling me to get back to work. I sought assistance from the base padre. However, about three days later I was in the mess and was approached by a third party. That person told me that the padre had shared my problems with him. That person was in my unit, but not anything to do with medical or chaplaincy services. All of this happened at a time when my wife suffered a terrible miscarriage. Even though my Commanding Officer knew this, I was told I had to get on an aircraft at short notice (a few hours) and do some things in a remote location for an undetermined period of time. I had to leave my wife in the hospital and arrange for my children to stay with some friends while I went away for three days to an area where contact with the outside world was not permitted and/or possible.
I also had some medical issues that were a direct result of my Active Service. However, this too was swept under the mat and regular trips to the military paid doctor had no result. As soon as I left the ADF, I sought assistance and my condition was diagnosed immediately. However, it was not until 2014 (24 years after my Active Service) that I even got a White Card and even then related to some hearing issues and nothing else.
After bottling up my experiences overseas that lead to my issues, I eventually gave up and resigned my commission with the ADF. Prior to this, I had an excellent career, was well reported upon and had received rapid promotion as a result. In summary, I had been groomed for higher office. I loved my job, the lifestyle and serving my country. Not a day goes by where I do not question whether I could have stayed within the ADF and sought change from within.
Because I could not get assistance from within the ADF, I sought external assistance. I sought my own counselling and started the road to recovery. It took a few years but I was finally able to tell my wife and some close family/friends why I was often anxious and withdrawn. Even after all these years, I still have bouts when thinking about the things that bought on my issues.
I am seeking support to have the period of entitlement to the Gold Card benefits to former members of the ADF who also saw a period of Active Service prior to 1 July 2004. This would correct a gap for people who served in an Active Service role after Vietnam, but before 2004.
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