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Vol 33 No.4 Summer 2017

Read the Vetaffairs Summer 2017 edition in interactive Realview format

Listen to the audio version (MP3 78.2 MB), noting the large file size. You can also request future issues on CD by emailing vetaffairs@dva.gov.au.

Download the printable PDF (134 MB).

DVA services over Christmas and New Year

DVA will provide reduced services over the Christmas–New Year period from 5:00 pm Friday, 22 December 2017, resuming full services at 9:00 am Tuesday, 2 January 2018. Find out about how to access services during this time.

$31m boost for veterans’ mental health

On 24 October 2017, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan announced the Government’s commitment to provide an additional $31 million to support veterans’ mental health and reduce suicide and self-harm in the veteran community.

Their medals are rightly on the left

Next time you see a woman wearing her medals on the left, please thank her for her service. That’s the message members of the Women Veterans Network Australia (WVNA) seek to promote through their By the Left campaign in the lead-up to Anzac Day.

MyService open to all PMKeyS number holders 

DVA has expanded the reach of MyService, its trial web-based claims system, to enable anyone with a PMKeyS number to submit a claim online.

Letters to the editor

Readers Glenn Mackie, Gladys Benjamin and Jim Burrowes OAM respond to Neville Rutledge’s letter in the Spring edition of Vetaffairs urging Australians to develop their knowledge of the Pacific War as it affected Australia.

News from the Department

Secretary Simon Lewis provides an update covering the 2016-17 Annual Report; the Government’s response to the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade’s report into suicide by veterans and ex-service personnel; recent and upcoming commemorative events; and DVA’s Transformation.

Ministers to coordinate efforts to make transition to civilian life easier

Attendees at the second Veterans Ministers’ Roundtable, held in Canberra on 8 November 2017, committed to a coordinated effort across all levels of government to ensure the successful transition of Australian Defence Force personnel moving from military to civilian life.

Trial to evaluate benefits of PTSD assistance dogs

The Australian Government will begin a trial in 2018 to consider the clinical mental health benefits of assistance dogs for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.

News from the Minister

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan reflects on how the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Awards and the Invictus Games will honour our veterans and their service to our country in 2018.

Bookings for Sir John Monash Centre now open

With the Sir John Monash Centre’s opening on Anzac Day only a few months away, the centre’s website is now taking visitor bookings.

Transferrable Defence skills key to post-transition career success

As the closing date for nominations for the inaugural Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Awards nears, 2018 Young Queenslander of the Year Phillip Thompson explains why veterans make such valuable employees: they have proven loyalty and commitment, a high moral code, a strong work ethic and a desire to secure meaningful employment.

DVA grants process goes digital in 2018

From early 2018, administration of most DVA grants will be undertaken online via the Australian Government’s Community Grants Hub website.

A word from the Principal Medical Adviser  

Tinnitus – more than just ringing in the ears

Tinnitus is more common in older people and is often associated with past significant exposure to loud noise, and as such, is a frequent problem for veterans who may have been exposed to high levels of noise during their military careers and may have resulting Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL, also known as sensori-neural hearing loss).

Grants to empower communities to commemorate Armistice Centenary

The Armistice Centenary Grants Program will provide $7.5 million in funding across Australia to enable communities to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

1000+ BNT participants, BCOF members upgraded to Gold Card

Implementation of the 2017–18 Budget measure to give Gold Cards to British Nuclear Test (BNT) participants and British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF) members began on 1 July.

ESO News

New patron for Malaya & Borneo Veterans Association

The National Malaya & Borneo Veterans Association Australia Inc (NMBVAA) has announced that Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove is its new Patron.

Coup for Veterans Film Festival

Attendees at the opening night of the second annual Veterans Film Festival in Canberra in October were able to catch an exclusive preview screening of Darkest Hour three months before its January release in cinemas.

Soldier On extends its services, revamps brand

On World Mental Health Day in October, Soldier On announced an expansion of its programs to include support for national security service personnel in addition to currently serving and former Australian Defence Force members.

Widows’ News 

Guild holds national conference

At the War Widows’ Guild 2017 national conference in Canberra in October, members held discussions about combining the state bodies with the national organisation over a period of time, to form one organisation supporting women affected by war and military service, thus ensuring the long-term viability of the Guild.

New theme song to mark 70th anniversary of AWWQ

The 70th anniversary celebrations of Australian War Widows Queensland (AWWQ) in October had a decidedly musical flavour, with the launch of a new theme song and a rousing performance from the Military Wives Choir.

Vale Patricia Bridges, life member and champion of golf

War Widows Guild life member Patricia Bridges OBE, a former district champion golfer and the first Australian to hold an executive position on an international golf committee, died in August at the age of 95.

Building a truly veteran centric culture

Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer Liz Cosson provides an update on DVA’s Veteran Centric Reform program, including details of early intervention initiatives to improve mental health outcomes for veterans, an update on the digitisation boost and telephony consolidation.

Helping to build a better future for military families

For war widows like Gwen Cherne and Sheralyn Rose, working to prevent other families from experiencing the pain they’ve been through due to their partner’s suicide has become a mission.

Connectedness and ongoing education vital

Connectedness and ongoing education are important for improved outcomes for veterans’ families, according to National Convenor of Defence Families Australia Maree Sirois.

Ramping up support for clients and their families

Underpinning all of the projects and initiatives that form part of DVA’s Veteran Centric Reform program is an emphasis on engagement and co-design, as First Assistant Secretary, Transformation and Engagement Kate Pope explains.

Retracing the steps of Australia’s Indigenous Light Horsemen

A National Indigenous Television (NITV) documentary to air on Anzac Day 2018 will follow descendants of Australia’s Indigenous Light Horsemen as they undertake a journey of remembrance and discovery in honour of their forebears. (NOTE TO INDIGENOUS READERS: This article contains the name and an image of an Indigenous Australian who has died.)

Honouring Kokoda’s veterans 75 years on

On 2 November 2017, a group of Kokoda veterans were guests of honour at a series of special events in Canberra marking the 75th anniversary of the campaigns.

Service marks 70 years of peacekeeping

Hundreds gathered to recognise the 70-year contribution of Australian peacekeepers at a national service at the recently unveiled Australian Peacekeeping Memorial in Canberra on 14 September 2017.

‘I thought he’d died there …’ 
Joyful reunion at 75th anniversary of the Battle of El Alamein

John Hair and Frederick Maurer were injured on the battlefield within hours of each other at El Alamein in 1942. Until October 2017 they had not seen each other since, each believing the other had been killed.

Remembering all who have served our nation

Second World War veteran Edward Fleming, 92, had to leave this year’s Remembrance Day service at the Australian War Memorial before it came to a close to head to work – he is a volunteer in the Online Gallery within the Memorial’s research area, where visitors come to look into the military service of family members.

Register now for 2018 overseas commemorations

As many Australians start to plan overseas trips for 2018, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs is encouraging those planning on attending international commemorative services to register early.

Myth Busters: Does DVA focus too much on commemorations?

Given the high-profile nature of events such as those marking the centenaries of the Battle of Beersheba and the Battle of Polygon Wood, it is not surprising that some believe that DVA spends a large chunk of its budget on commemorations. In fact, only 0.8% of DVA’s budget is spent on commemorative events and programs.

From paddleboarding to trampolining, veterans embrace fun week of fitness

Around 14,000 veterans and their families took advantage of the spring weather to take part in more than 200 events across Australia during Veterans’ Health Week in October 2017.

When it always hurts 

According to Mental Health Adviser Dr Loretta Poerio, one in five Australians, and up to one in three Australians over 65, live with chronic pain, and of those, almost 40 per cent are severely or moderately limited in their day-to-day lives. Dr Poerio explains how pain works, and outlines the latest techniques for managing chronic pain conditions.

Off the shelf

  • The Seventh Circle: A former Australian Soldier’s extraordinary story of surviving seven years in Afghanistan’s most notorious prison
  • Palestine Diaries: The Light Horsemen’s own story, battle by battle
  • Beersheba: Travels through a forgotten Australian victory.

Clients have their say on DVA legislation

The inaugural DVA Legislation Workshop was held on 9 November 2017, providing the veteran community with an opportunity to shape the future direction of the Department’s legislation program.

Planning for natural disasters

Summer in Australia is synonymous with barbecues, long days at the beach or pool, and ice cream vans cruising through the streets. But in many parts of the country, it is also synonymous with natural disasters including bushfires, cyclones and severe storms, so it is important to prepare yourself, your family, your pets and your property.

News from the Australian War Memorial

Blockbuster exhibition offers rare insights into Special Forces elite

The Australian War Memorial’s latest exhibition, From the Shadows: Australia’s Special Forces, provides visitors with unique insights into both the enigmatic world of our most highly trained soldiers and modern warfare in some of the world’s most volatile locations.

Items for sale

  • Poppy and forget-me-not grow your own seedlings packs
  • The Commando: The life and death of Cameron Baird, VCMG
  • Barney Greatrex: From Bomber Command to the French Resistance – the stirring story of an Australian hero
  • Palestine Diaries: The light horsemen’s own story, battle by battle.

Reunion notices

Medals - lost and found

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