THERE IS MORE TO THIS AMF/ADF – Bob Buick MM
Last night on SKY (Paul Murray) the interim report from the RC into Defence suicides was presented and it’s all blaming DVA so I have sent this email to the likes of Bolt. Credlin, Murray and others hoping they will raise the comparison between the AMF and ADF in regard to the care and responsibility of the ADF to its members. Bob
Once you have read what Bob has written I invite you to comment. It is right now I wish we had the forum up and running. Ray
I served over twenty years in Infantry with the AMF, Australian Military Forces 1959-1980, retiring as a Warrant Officer First Class, a platoon sergeant of 11 Platoon at Long Tan and awarded the Military Medal. I present this background so that I am identified as a warrior, not one who has not experienced years of service and without operational service and able to comment on what I believe is the possible cause of suicide of those in the ADF. There has never been a suicide of those who served with D Company 6RAR Vietnam 1966-7 and over one hundred and seventy passed through the company roll book in the year.
In the 1980s the Hawke Government created the ADF along the lines of the Canadian Arm Forces adopting changed administrative procedures used by the AMF that were based on those successfully used from WW2. When one enlisted into the AMF (Army) it was for a period of three or six years and early discharge was not permitted except for extenuating circumstances, like compassionate or serious breaches of military conduct. Those who were wounded due to operational service, or loss of a limb or more importantly identified with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) were able to remain in service and transfer to another corps enabling the soldier to remain active in the service. An example, in my platoon, was a soldier who became the platoon’s radio operator after Long Tan, August 1966. In the November of 1966 the platoon suffered one KIA (Killed in Action) and thirteen WIA (Wounded in Action), my radio operator lost a foot, but he served for another thirty years retiring as a Major.
It is my understanding that those joining the ADF (Army) now sign a contract to be employed in a specific Corps, like Infantry, or Intelligence for a specific period, but here comes the rub, the difference between the AMF and ADF.
Using the example above the continuance in the service (Army) is not offered or given because the soldier WIA or identified with PTSD is in breach of contract and therefore discharged from the ADF. I attached two docs the second is a submission to the Minister for Veteran’s Affairs 2017, which created a meeting meet with the Minister’s Chief of Staff at Parliament House after a screening of the film “Danger Close” – the Battle of Long Tan in 2019.
I never submitted the 2nd attachment to the RC because I expected my letter to be already included documentation researched by the RC.
I send this email to you because in my mind the DVA is not totally at fault but there is a causal link caused by Defence and the contractual details enlistees are bound by. The second attachment is based on a discussion I had many years ago with a member of 2RAR and therefore an example of what can be extrapolated from a discussion, but, interesting if a comparison between suicide post-Vietnam to post-Iraq/Afghanistan would raise different outcomes to that I heard in the interim report from the present RC.
I do believe that the RC will not reach suitable recommendations to change government procedures, but that is something you could investigate and raise with the people involved.
TWO ATTACHMENTS CLICK LINKS TO OPEN
For website – Letter to DVA re suicides AMF-ADF
Ray as a Vietnam Veteran and a 1st intake National Serviceman who still maintains contact with the his fellow veterans I agree in part (majority) with Bob Buick.
I have been diagnosed with Anxiety Depression with Suicidal tendencies and PTSD since the mid 80’s after a lengthy fight with the DVA.
We National Servicemen we’re in for 2 years and at no time offered a permanent roll with the AMF especially at our discharge. We were sent back to civilian life and our original place of employment. I worked for The Bank and at a course to re-educate us on changes we were informed, that when we went to our respective branches not to mention we had been to SVN.
This led to a lot of anxiety, on my part, and I found it extremely difficult to lead a normal life and turned to alcohol, which almost cost me my marriage and children.
So as Bob said those that stayed with the regimen of the AMF were less likely to suffer.
Good points, but its not just the AMF/ADF titling that was the dividing-line, we still re-roled broken Diggs into Q or Admin etc roles into the 90s. E.g. I medicalled out of 2/4RAR in 91 as a Digg at MedLevel8/HO and spent 5 years as a Raeme Quiee until I could get surgically repaired and upgraded to MEC1 to successfully serve another 25 years, including 5 deployments.
It was only with the creeping civilianisation of DSGs and other nondeployable support positions in the mid-90s onwards that this option became unavailable, and now the broken diggs get dumped out straight onto the street, with only poor DVA support, and unfortunately increased suicides.
They claimed this civilianisation was cheaper as APS didnt get full army pay or waste time on PT each morning etc, but if you have to add the DVA cost on it was probably cheaper to keep them as uniformed ‘respite’ positions, or at least make them ‘APS-for-Digger-rehabilitation-only’ positions to let Diggs recover back into ADF or ease the transition out to civvy street.
Even DVA should be hiring broken ex-Diggs not random call-centre civilians with no idea of the military.