Should Australia have a ‘Purple Heart’-type award?

Minister for Defence Personnel Darren Chester has directed the Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal to consider recognition for members of the ADF who are injured, wounded or killed in or as a result of their service.

Minister Chester said that following preliminary consultation and advice from the Council of Women and Families United by Defence Service, this issue was now a matter for the tribunal to examine.

“The Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal will undertake a broader consideration to acknowledge those who have been injured, wounded, or killed as a result of their ADF service, and the impact on their families,” Mr Chester said.

“This expert body, established to consider Defence honours and awards, is the most appropriate body to consider recognition for ADF members and their families.

“I am also very grateful for the work of the Council of Women and Families United by Defence Service in its consideration for appropriate recognition.”

Chair of the Council of Women and Families United by Defence Service Gabby Costigan said the council had carefully considered the most appropriate recognition for the families of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

“We feel the Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal consideration is extremely important and we encourage individuals and organisations to contribute to the inquiry.”

Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal will seek written submissions from ex-service organisations and government agencies, but anyone with an interest in this issue can make a submission to the inquiry.

Submissions to the inquiry are expected to close in late March 2021.

Further information can be found on the tribunal’s website.

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Should Australia instigate a Purple-Heart-type award?
Answers in comments below…

 

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Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

50 thoughts on “Should Australia have a ‘Purple Heart’-type award?

  • 05/04/2021 at 8:43 pm
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    It goes without saying that the man who dies on the battlefield will suffer no more, and although he will never know it, achieves the highest place of recognition in the country’s military history.
    But it is a different story for the man who is wounded, but survives.
    It is not generally known that only about 4% of men who serve in war are actually wounded in action— and sadly, the wounded are then invariably marginalised by the great majority who weren’t.
    Nevertheless, the wounded man always lives with the knowledge that he has done something extraordinary— engaging in deadly combat with a foe determined to kill him. Why extraordinary?
    Because men on any battlefield know that when the bullets are flying, there is a great chance they will be killed or wounded—and if wounded, perhaps maimed for life.
    And yet, they do it still. It is the only occupation in which men volunteer to kill his fellow man, and risk being killed in return— and they do it day in, day out until their tour of duty is done.
    The man who survives combat, and who is wounded, has the scars to prove it.
    It is those very scars he must always live with— the missing leg, or arm, or eyes, or brain injury, or the burns, or a dozen other disabilities that result from bullet or shrapnel or booby trap or mine— that remain a permanent reminder of the extraordinary thing he has done, and what he has endured the rest of the days of his life.
    It is a truism though that the man with physical war wounds not only endures the immediate, traumatic physical pain that comes with a piece of steel smashing into his body, but will suffer the same psychological trauma as those who are not physically wounded will suffer— PTSD.
    So the man who bleeds on the battlefield is, in effect, doubly wounded.
    And it is precisely that double-set of disabilities that always sets the wounded man apart from his peers, even those who served alongside of him at the coalface.
    I know that there are men who breathed a sigh of relief to come home from war physically unscathed, yet have been heard to whisper that they’d like to have experienced a minor wound at least, to show that they were in the thick of it.
    The wounded man has no such incertitude.
    He needs to prove nothing, ever again.
    Unfortunately for the wounded men though, the man with physical and psychological disabilities can only be compensated at the same rate as the man who claims to be affected by PTSD— and knowing that many of those never experienced the harsh reality of war. Too often, combat experiences are rarely the source of much attention within the veteran community because the great majority of veterans do not actually see combat, but served in supporting roles. Therefore most are unaware of the true trauma that comes with the
    1
    dynamic of fighting for one’s life, or prefer not to dwell on it lest it reflects on the paucity of their own experience.
    More troubling for the wounded man is that he watches his fellow veterans who are in relatively good physical health jostle each other in the rush for war pensions using ‘psychological trauma’ as the basis for claims for the Totally and Permanently Incapacitated Pension (TPI)— the Holy Grail of pensions.
    The great majority of veterans from recent conflicts have now achieved that end.
    But the Tribunal has the opportunity to ‘reward’ those who fought in the harshest of conditions, who experienced combat against a fearless, relentless enemy and bled on the battlefield, and therefore draw a line in the sand between the warrior, and supporting personnel.
    The United States recognised this difference a century ago with the awarding of the Purple Heart.
    The physically wounded Australian serviceman also deserves special recognition similar to the Purple Heart— with strict guidelines to prevent fraudulent claims regarding it.

    Reply
    • 11/04/2021 at 9:43 pm
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      100% accurate in every word Don TATE. Well said.

      Some of the comments below are absolutely appalling from members of the ‘veteran community ‘.

      Reply
  • 23/03/2021 at 6:02 pm
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    I’m reading alot of comments from people on here that are very disappointing…

    Of all of you saying it’s a shit idea and we don’t want it are reservists that have never deployed?

    How many of you have actually fought with the enemy?

    How many of you have been shot/ blown up?

    How many of you have seen your friends die on the battlefield?

    I’m gonna say not many at all.

    Whether you would wear the medal or not if given it tells a story which many families of KIA would love to have.. myself included! I believe in this and think it’s the least the government could do.

    And no it’s not for back pain or an ingrown toenail or PTSD which I have same as everyone else..I wouldn’t expect to get it for that it’s for when you are injured from enemy fire or killed from enemy fire !!! Also with the amount of members actually wounded or killed don’t worry about us looking like Americans FFS.

    Reply
    • 11/04/2021 at 9:42 pm
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      The only people who will not support such an initiative will be from people who never were ever out in danger so don’t think anyone else should be recognised for their sacrifice and injury funny how the senior leadership can give themselves automatic national Australia Day awards such as Distinguished Service Crosses for being in charge of all edged atrocities without any command capability but we would deny members who were Wounded in Action any recognition?

      Reply
  • 14/02/2021 at 2:14 pm
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    For those that are worried about PTSD.
    The meaning of injured means to be HARMED WOUNDED OR IMPAIRED, I think that covers your concerns.

    Reply
  • 08/02/2021 at 9:01 am
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    Most definitely, there should be some recognition for those who have been impaired permanently and live with the pain of their service. Most civvies are ignorant of what it means to be a Veteran.
    My family has four generations of Veterans and little to show for it. BRING IT ON.

    Reply
  • 30/01/2021 at 11:47 am
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    Recognition for wounded or killed as a result of a combat related incident is a good idea but it should not become a “participants”award in the same way as probably seventy percent of ICB wearers have never seen combat. These things are fast becoming like every child in the running race gets a ribbon.
    The American system does have its flaws, but it is not as bad as we make it out to be. On the uniform they wear 3 ribbons across and we wear 4. This gives the appearance of many due to depth. They also include unit citations.
    Purple hearts were quickly awarded and often pined on pillows following a long tradition of wanting the recipient to know their country appreciated their service in case they died. It really just a case of getting it right.

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  • 27/01/2021 at 1:14 pm
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    What a crap idea. We’ll look like Mexican Generals before too long.

    Jeff

    Reply
    • 23/03/2021 at 5:48 pm
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      Hey Jeff,

      Have you been wounded in action or have anyone close to you killed in combat?

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    • 11/04/2021 at 9:43 pm
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      You mean like the officers?

      Reply
  • 25/01/2021 at 5:32 pm
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    Smells like another election is coming up and the govt is now putting up a smoke screen to divert attention away from the much needed Royal Commission into Veteran Suicide and the Brereton Report. A mate was sent to Bien Hoa after a tooth extraction wouldn’t stop bleeding, handed a Purple Heart but told Yank Officer he didn’t want it.

    Reply
    • 05/03/2021 at 5:36 pm
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      Fake news : no Australian has ever been awarded the PH and the award is only for US service personnel. So your mates story is rubbish.

      Reply
    • 12/04/2021 at 3:14 pm
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      Hello from Wyoming! Interesting read, if I may say so. If I might I’d like to make a few comment about this subject. First, the preliminaries: I served for a total of 25 years. Four years in the Marine Corps and 21 in the Air Force. All were served on active duty. Our Purple Heart is only given to combat wounded. Yes, during Vietnam, they were handed out like candy. I’ve heard this from different sources so I believe it happened. Things have changed since that War. Eligibility for all medals has been tightened up. Egg shells no longer earn the Purple Heart medal. You must be serving in combat; land, sea and/or air. There must be witnesses and are awarded either during a ceremony, when possible, or individually when a ceremony is deemed impossible.
      I am 100% permanent and totally (P&T) disabled. This rating came from our Veterans Administration. I was never in combat so I am ineligible for that medal. It played no part in my rating decision. Broken bones, destroyed joints, concussion, repetitive injuries from fixing and serving on several helicopters and unfortunately, PTSD all contributed to my rating. I served my country 100%. I gave everything I was asked and gave more when necessary. I did not earn the medal and wouldn’t accept one if it were offered.
      The Purple Heart was first given during our Revolution against England and has been given ever since. It is our oldest and arguably our most recognized decoration. If Australia wanted to copy or use it as a basis for a similar decoration, it would be an honor. Recognizing combat wounded with a medal is just one step in helping our combat wounded cope with life altering injuries. Thank you, Semper Fi!

      Reply
  • 25/01/2021 at 4:31 pm
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    A really good idea, please do it.
    Recognition of the health impacts of military service is important and will only help. I see no harm in it whatsoever beyond a few bruised egos of those that feel entitled to make negative value judgements of others.

    Keith

    Reply
  • 25/01/2021 at 10:20 am
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    We don’t need an award…next we will be looking like the US with the amount of fruit they were on their uniforms. What we do need is the Australian Government to focus its efforts on the prevention of Veteran Suicide and programs for our military personnel (when they come back from a warlike zone or when they are going to discharge), so that they are able to integrate back into society fully functional. We don’t need hollow promises, but solid plans to ensure that our service is not diminished when we leave the ADF and fall through the cracks, and become a statistic.

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  • 25/01/2021 at 9:33 am
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    I am a Civilian with an interest in Military Awards .I fully get that this is a debate that should be decided upon by the Veterans Community themselves. Just to highlight that The Purple Heart is a uniquely American Award.It dates way back to the American Revolutionary Wars when it was worn as a Patch. It became a Medal in 1932 and this is when it became an Entitlement recognising Death, Injury or Illness of Serving Military Personnel in The Line Of Duty . The closest thing that Australia had to this was the WW1 “Wound Stripe” It was a simple straight Bar worn on the Uniform sleeve , but discontinued after the War.

    Reply
    • 25/01/2021 at 12:49 pm
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      As an ex service member I personally think that this is something that has memeret an requires someone thought I was hurt because of my service my hnees,back,shoulders and anklesan hips are all giving me trouble I’ve had a knee replacement,ankle reconstruction dose this qualify me for such an award there are many ex service personnel in the same or worse suitationas this on paper may be a good idea but who is going to meet what ever standard thats recommend.

      Reply
      • 25/01/2021 at 5:14 pm
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        Think the money could be better spent in injury recovery and service person support

        Reply
  • 25/01/2021 at 8:48 am
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    Some recognition would be nice I imagine, but many are too humble to want to wear them. I would like to echo the comments looking into DVA pensions etc, Many come through the doors of DHS/Services Australia applying for payments because they are waiting so long on a DVA pension approval, that they then fall into financial hardship, feels like weve dropped the ball there.
    Think about Legacy and other charities that have popped up out of necessity because our own government havnt done enough.

    Reply
    • 30/01/2021 at 9:05 pm
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      All the $$ spent on processing and striking the medal will be better spent on investing in better medical and DVA support for veterans!

      Serving members probably won’t wear it anyway. We don’t like to tell the world that we have been injured or wounded.

      Reply
      • 27/03/2021 at 2:16 am
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        It should also be for those injured in peace time many of their injuries are just as bad as wartime disabled etc emphasis any person with DVA disability injuries whom were discharged medically due to peace time or war time injuries

        Reply
      • 05/04/2021 at 8:40 pm
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        Nonsense. Men who were wounded at the coalface are proud of it.

        Reply
  • 24/01/2021 at 11:13 pm
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    The PM and Mr Chester should focus on getting a Royal Commission into Veterans Suicide instead of trying to hand out trinkets that most indicate they do not want. The term injured in Service is where many would not qualify as they were not on Active Service, so hence no qualifying for recognition for being wounded. I don’t know if many are aware of how the survivors of HMAS Voyager were treated, it wasn’t good- but they were injured, some very badly many with PTSD but none qualify for a DVA pension because the accident wasn’t War related. Add to that that the VEA was amended effective 7 December 1972 so anyone injured prior to that date was excluded from getting a DVA Pension, they could get Compensation payments until age 65 and then were chucked on the old age pension. The PM promises to look after our service personnel but needs to correct the injustices that have been perpetuated, bring the VEA in line with all the talk that is being thrown around by him and protect all Defence Members equally. But first let’s have the Royal Commission into Veterans Suicide to save our people from the Black Dog and all the harm it causes the families.

    Reply
  • 24/01/2021 at 7:10 pm
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    We Viet Vets used to laugh at the amount shit the Americans had on their uniforms. Now we are looking the same! My mate was circumcised in a US hospital in country and he was given a Purple Heart!

    Jock

    Reply
    • 25/01/2021 at 11:20 am
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      Let’s just give awards for passing Kapooka. What a crock. It’s bad enough you have to wear a badge that says you’re ready for deployment. Soon everyone will get recognition just for turning up.

      Reply
  • 24/01/2021 at 6:37 pm
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    Its a great idea, but like everything else, a bit late. US troops wounded in battle have received Purple Hearts for as long as I can remember.
    A Prime Ministers signature is required to send Australian troops into a war zone, knowing very well what could happen to them and knowing that they may not return. Therefore ALL Prime Ministers must be held accountable for their actions, LEST WE FORGET.

    Reply
    • 25/01/2021 at 11:22 am
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      Yes and let them wear this American influenced bauble.

      Reply
  • 24/01/2021 at 4:37 pm
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    Money wasted
    WW1 wound stripes were good whilst in uniform
    Too many “junk” awards are an American thing the ADF can do without
    I have four and as a Reservist, never went to war
    HenRAE

    Reply
  • 24/01/2021 at 4:02 pm
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    Spend the money fixing DVA instead. That will provide far more practical value.

    Reply
    • 24/01/2021 at 10:32 pm
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      Yes, DVA needs fixing, and I don’t believe we need a medal for being wounded or injured.

      Reply
  • 24/01/2021 at 3:38 pm
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    I am wary about this because whilst I think recognition is always important, being selective about the timing of injury (e.g. in training vs deployed) might muddy the waters. Also, we’ve always been told that mental injuries should be treated the same as physical injuries, shouldn’t it be the same then? How injured from service would you have to be to get a medal, and who gets it in the end, the veteran or the family? Seems more trouble than it’s worth when there are bigger things to worry about.

    Reply
  • 24/01/2021 at 2:25 pm
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    There is a stark difference between “Wounded” and “Injured”. My first reaction to this was to approve the idea provided it was approved for those who were actually ‘wounded’ by an event ‘In Active Service’ and not injured by tripping over a monsoon drain outside the Base Ops centre, etc. Then I read many of the comments on PTSD, which has damaged hundreds of ex-servicemen & women. So, my final comment would be to oppose the move as I believe there would be confusion between those who were genuinely wounded and those who were injured, and the award apparently doesn’t take into account those suffering with PTSD.
    Kind Regards, John. (Ex RAAF – and Vietnam Veteran).

    Reply
  • 24/01/2021 at 2:17 pm
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    I think it is a good idea, and long over due. Many a wounded worrier came home with not much to show for his/her actions and was looked at with inquisitive eyes as to why he/she was back. May be some sort of attachment to the Campaign Medal Ribbon to show that the wearer was wounded during the Campaign which the medal is for. I also would state that it can only be awarded to any one who is medevacked out of the Battle Zone with injuries sustained by an enemy engagement. Where a combatant is K.I.A or whilst standing at station/post the attachment would be of a different design to the wounded one. The wound must be a physicals one to be awarded the citation/attachment. I am a Vietnam Veteran, and I was involved in action where my A.P.C, was blown up under my my driver and myself. Both of us returned to service 3 days after refitting a new carrier. I do suffer from P.T.S.D. and other problems. But do not think I or any one else in my type of position deserve any form of recognition for injury’s.

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  • 24/01/2021 at 2:08 pm
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    Can we just get DVA sorted properly first?

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  • 24/01/2021 at 2:01 pm
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    Most wounds will heal in time but your headspace is permanently impaired.
    Seeing billions splashing around for new equipment that is more in line with vote gathering potential as opposed to the best option when it takes months and sometime years to have a DVA claim processed seems very wrong.
    When medals are passed out subject to an allocation system to senior officers makes a mockery of any awards system so passing out some confetti to the lower ranks seems a bit cynical to this old Dig.
    Fix the system that is supposed to serve those who served. “For what they have done, this we will do.” Make that covenant promise mean something.

    Reply
  • 24/01/2021 at 1:48 pm
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    Did I tell you about my left knee that was injured during Infantry training?
    Jokes aside; this is a copy of an American award that we don’t need/want.

    Reply
  • 24/01/2021 at 12:57 pm
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    It becomes a joke.
    It has been documented that an American soldier received a Purple Heart after a medical report described ‘Removal of shell fragments from the eye’. Turns out he was a cook and some how had ‘eggshell’ fragments in his eye!

    Many Australians who were wounded or injured ended up in 24 Evac Hosp long Bin in South Vietnam. One Australian recalled seeing a bloke walk through the hospital dealing out Purple Hearts like pills. He attempted to give them to the Australians as well when he was told politely to “Bugger off”.

    We have become too much like the Americans. I personally don’t think we need a shirt full of ornaments.

    Reply
  • 24/01/2021 at 12:31 pm
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    The meaning of injured
    ADJECTIVE
    harmed, damaged, or impaired.
    The preceeding comment references PTSD. I agree the terms do not specifically mention PTSD but an injury. The broad meaning of injured could also draw PTSD into the scheme.
    I believe there should be some type of acknowledgement (purple heart style). While talking about recognition, the Minister should look at the recognition of partners similiar to that given during WW2. They serve their country by ensuring the defence member is able to to do their job.

    Reply
    • 24/01/2021 at 1:58 pm
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      I think this is a great idea which should also be provided to members of our emergency service injured or killed in the line of duty.

      Reply
    • 24/01/2021 at 11:11 pm
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      My wife agrees with you 100 present.
      She did 23 years from 1974 to 1997 and was treated like shit because she was only the wife.

      Reply
  • 24/01/2021 at 12:31 pm
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    Not a bad idea to have some type of recognition, but stay away from anything that looks remotely like the Purple Heart!
    I do agree with Mike, above, about mental health being more important, and unable to show the PSTD injury as criteria for an award.

    Reply
  • 24/01/2021 at 11:55 am
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    G’day,
    At the start of the last century, particularly WW1 Australia used to award Wound chevrons which were worn on the lower part of the left sleeve. THIS is what I reckon we bring back. I don’t agree with the award go a gong as such, but I do believe there should be something in place to let others know that “this person” was wounded in service.

    Gav

    Reply
    • 24/01/2021 at 12:59 pm
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      Brilliant idea.
      Walter, Viet Vet.

      Reply
      • 24/01/2021 at 1:01 pm
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        I should have said, brilliant idea Gav Hastings.
        Walter Viet Vet.

        Reply
    • 24/01/2021 at 1:43 pm
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      Yep. I was going to suggest the same myself.
      Andrew

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    • 24/01/2021 at 2:14 pm
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      Spot on Gav. But how long before we see some peopel whinging to be ‘recognised’ for their non-comabt injuries and ailments because they feel left out … and no-one has thanked them for their service for 5 minutes or more …

      Reply
  • 24/01/2021 at 11:55 am
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    Why do we always have to follow the USA in everything?????

    This makes NO RECOGNITION FOR PTSD only physical injuries, not mental.
    We need a Royal Commission into suicide of Veterans not another medal
    Wake up Minister, you evidently do not understand your brief which is to look after the HEALTH OF VETERANS BOTH PHYSICAL AND MENTAL.
    IF YOU CANNOT DO THE JOB PROPERLY THEN RESIGN

    Reply
    • 24/01/2021 at 1:17 pm
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      Is this another Morrison attempt to derail attempts at Appointing a Royal Commission into the subject of ADF suicide and PTSD. Instead, the solution appears to be “Chuck the dogs another biscuit.” The last badge this government chucked out was Australian Veterans Badge; the badge that everyone is too embarrassed and self conscious to wear, think I wore it once, been back in its box ever since. The badge coupled with the Australian Defence Veterans Covenant, very big on words, platitudes and public recognition. Lovely to have the recognition from our “highly trusted” and duly elected leaders, but when are they going to start matching their money with their mealy mouthed statements. Just push more ADF personnel off the cliff through an insensitive and dismissive DVA. This government? Big on words Piss Poor on Delivery. Darren Chester and his merry band of defence public servants who “Don’t work and Can’t be Fired”.

      Reply
      • 24/01/2021 at 1:54 pm
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        Feels very much like ScoMo is big on the PR very pathetic on the actual follow through.

        Would this mean that anyone medically discharged would receive recognition?
        If it meant that DVA actually did something then we should be all for it.
        But if it is just another empty platitude from politicians then they can f right off.

        The best recognition politicians could do for veterans right now would be a royal commission into suicide!

        Reply
    • 24/01/2021 at 2:48 pm
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      I agree with you 100% Mike, I’m also a Viet Vet, this suggestion I believe is a attempt to distract from
      getting a Royal Commission into suicide. To me it’s a snow job

      Reply

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