FIRST PSYCHIATRIC ASSISTANCE DOG PROVIDED IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA

A South Australian veteran is the first to receive an assistance dog from one of two new providers under the Australian Government’s Psychiatric Assistance Dog Program.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said Xena, trained by the Royal Society for the Blind (RSB) in South Australia, has now been handed over to a veteran to support them with managing their post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“These dogs are specially trained to perform tasks that help with the recovery of their veteran handler and are trained to detect signs of distress and perform specific tasks to help alleviate those symptoms,” Mr Chester said.

“We are hearing stories every day of how the program is changing the lives of our veterans and improving their quality of life by helping them manage their PTSD symptoms on a daily basis.

“RSB is a 136-year-old organisation and their experience in training our canine companions will go a long way towards supporting veterans to manage their PTSD, which in turn helps those families that provide vital support.

“The Government’s program continues to deliver positive results by providing a psychiatric assistance dog to eligible veterans with PTSD as part of their ongoing mental health treatment plan.”

Xena and her veteran handler have now completed their training and share each day together.

“Xena has been just wonderful for me. She has made me feel calmer, more settled, and my housemates have already commented on the changes in me,” the veteran said.

“I just feel more grounded, and less anxious with her by my side. When I go to university, she has made me feel more comfortable as a part of a crowd, and better able to engage with my fellow students.”

The program has grown to include four providers across Australia, with 13 psychiatric assistance dogs having passed their all-important training and more than 80 dogs are in training.

“Since the program was announced in September 2019, more than 200 requests from veterans interested in adding an assistance dog to their treatment plan have been received,” Mr Chester said.

“This is just one of the ways we are putting veterans and their families first, and I look forward to seeing more eligible veterans experiencing the difference an assistance dog can make to their lives.”

RSB are one of four providers of psychiatric assistance dogs through DVA, which includes Integra Service Dogs, Smart Pups Assistance Dogs, and the Centre for Service and Therapy Dogs Australia.

The program is available to eligible veterans who have a diagnosis of PTSD and forms part of their current PTSD treatment plan. Veterans currently accessing treatment for PTSD may wish to speak to their mental health professional to see if a psychiatric assistance dog would be a suitable adjunct to treatment.  For more information about DVA’s Psychiatric Assistance Dog Program visit the DVA website.

NOT QUITE YET … BUT.

Britannia waives the rules

The Royal Navy is proud to announce its new fleet of Type 45 destroyers.  Having initially named the first two ships HMS Daring and HMS Dauntless, the Naming Committee has, after intensive pressure from Brussels, renamed them HMS Cautious and HMS Prudence.  The next five ships are to be HMS Empathy, HMS Circumspect, HMS Nervous, HMS Timorous and HMS Apologist.

Costing £850 million each, they comply with the very latest employment, equality, health & safety and human rights laws.  The Royal Navy fully expects any future enemy to be jolly decent and to comply with the same high standards of behaviour.

The new user-friendly crow’s nest has excellent wheelchair access.  Live ammunition has been replaced with paintballs to reduce the risk of anyone getting hurt and to cut down on the number of compensation claims.  Stress counsellors and lawyers will be on board, as will be a full sympathetic industrial tribunal.

The crew will be 50/50 men and women and will contain the correct balance of race, gender, sexuality and disability.  Sailors will only work a maximum of 37hrs per week as per Brussels Rules on Working Hours, even in wartime.  All the vessels are equipped with a maternity ward, a crèche and a gay disco.

Tobacco will be banned throughout the ship, but recreational cannabis will be allowed in wardrooms and messes.

The Royal Navy is eager to shed its traditional reputation for; “Rum, sodomy and the lash”; so out has gone the rum ration, replaced by sparkling water.  Sodomy remains, now extended to include all ratings under 18.  The lash will still be available on request.

Saluting of officers is now considered elitist and has been replaced by the greeting “Hello Sailor”.

All information on notice boards will be in 37 different languages and Braille, with the option for more if personnel from other ethnic groups join the ship’s company.

Crew members will now no longer have to ask permission to grow beards and/or moustaches.  This applies equally to the female and transgender crew.

The MoD is inviting suggestions for a “non-specific” flag because the White Ensign may offend minorities.  The Union Jack must never be seen.

The newly re-named HMS Cautious will be commissioned shortly by Captain Hook from the Naval Group Committee of the Finsbury Park Mosque who will break a petrol bomb over the hull.  She will gently slide into the sea as the Royal Marines Band plays “In the Navy” by the Village People.  Her first deployment will be to escort boatloads of illegal immigrants to ports on England’s south coast.

The Prime Minister said, “Our ships reflect the very latest in modern thinking and they will always be able to comply with any new orders or legislation from Brussels.”

His final words were, “Britannia waives the rules.”

YES, WE ARE VETERANS

We Are Veterans.

We left home as teenagers or in our early twenties for an unknown adventure.

We loved our country enough to defend it and protect it with our own lives.

We said goodbye to friends and family and everything we knew.

We learned the basics and then we scattered in the wind to the far corners of the Earth.

We found new friends and new family.

We became brothers and sisters regardless of colour, race or creed.

We had plenty of good times, and plenty of bad times.

We didn’t get enough sleep.

We smoked and drank too much.

We picked up both good and bad habits.

We worked hard and played harder.

We didn’t earn a great wage.

We experienced the happiness of mail call and the sadness of missing important events.

We didn’t know when, or even if, we were ever going to see home again.

We grew up fast, and yet somehow, we never grew up at all.

We fought for our freedom, as well as the freedom of others.

Some of us saw actual combat, and some of us didn’t.

Some of us saw the world, and some of us didn’t.

Some of us dealt with physical warfare, most of us dealt with psychological warfare.

We have seen and experienced and dealt with things that we can’t fully describe or explain, as not all of our sacrifices were physical.

We participated in time honoured ceremonies and rituals with each other, strengthening our bonds and camaraderie.

We counted on each other to get our job done and sometimes to survive it at all.

We have dealt with victory and tragedy.

We have celebrated and mourned.

We lost to many mates along the way.

When our adventure was over, some of us went back home, some of us started somewhere new and some of us never came home at all.

We have told amazing and hilarious stories of our exploits and adventures.

We share an unspoken bond with each other, that most people don’t experience, and few will understand.

We speak highly of our own branch of service, and poke fun at the other branches.

We know however, that, if needed, we will be there for our brothers and sisters and stand together as one, in a heartbeat.

Being a Veteran is something that had to be earned, and it can never be taken away.

It has no monetary value, but at the same time it is a priceless gift.

People see a Veteran and then thank them for their service.

When we see each other, we give that little upwards head nod, or a slight smile, knowing that we have shared and experienced things that most people have not.

So, from myself to the rest of the veterans out there, I commend and thank you for all that you have done and sacrificed for your country.

Try to remember the good times and forget the bad times.

Share your stories.

But most importantly, stand tall and proud, for you have earned the right to be called a Veteran.

Why Veterans Reunite

“I now know why men who have been to war yearn to reunite.  Not to tell stories or look at old pictures.  Not to laugh or weep.  Comrades gather because they long to be with the men who once acted at their best; men who suffered and sacrificed together, who were stripped of their humanity.  I did not pick these men.  They were delivered by fate and the military. But I know them in a way I know no other men.

I have never given anyone such trust.  They were willing to guard something more precious than my life.  They would have carried my reputation, the memory of me.  It was part of the bargain we all made, the reason we were so willing to die for one another.  

As long as I have memory, I will think of them all, every day.  I am sure that when I leave this world, my last thought will be of my family and my comrades…Such good men.”

By an unnamed Soldier