When The War Is Over

Posted: April 25, 2013 in Charity or Community Service Posts, Random Stuff, World News and Events

Anzac Day means different things to different people.

To some I’m sure it’s just an excuse for a day off, for some it is a reason to honour those who gave so much for our freedom, for some it’s a time to pay respects to fallen comrades, for some it is a celebration of the Australian spirit.

However you choose to spend your time on ANZAC Day, be it at a march, at a dawn service, or watching the events in TV, or even just at home doing nothing, I hope you spare a moment to consider the sacrifice our armed forces, past and present make for us and be thankful for it.

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To me, this is the most important of the public holidays. It has nothing to do with the birthday of a head of state living in another country. It has nothing to do with the commercialism and consumerism of the religious holidays of Christmas and Easter. Instead it is all about pride, mateship, honour and sacrifice, things that embody the Aussie Spirit..

For some however ANZAC Day will be the hardest day of the year as it will bring back memories that you or I can barely imagine. These are the men and women who suffer from post-traumatic stress, and unfortunately there are many of them.

I should point out that it is not only war veterans that suffer from post-traumatic stress, it comes in different forms and can afflict anybody from any walk of life. It is a common condition with those in high stress jobs such as police and other emergency services. It is also common in nursing, and in the care industry, however it can be brought on by any bad experience and affect someone for the rest of their lives. Some people witness an accident and that can cause it, some may have a bad experience in a hospital and suffer from it as a result, there are countless ways it can be brought on.

Given that today is ANZAC day I wanted to talk today about an organisation that I came across recently that I believe provide a fantastic service to our returned troops and their families.

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The Young Diggers are an organisation that has been around for about three and a half years now. They provide many essential services to servicemen/women and their families. In particular I wanted to touch on the Dog Squad programme which is designed to help returned troops who are suffering from severe post-traumatic stress.

The Dog Squad places dogs with soldiers which have returned from duty suffering severe post-traumatic stress. Many of these returned troops have been suicidal, and have shut themselves off from the outside world.

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Anyone who has ever owned a dog knows the unconditional loyalty and friendship that a dog provides, they are not called man’s best friend for nothing.

However the dogs in the Dog Squad are no ordinary dogs, not in the slightest. The companion dogs are expertly trained to the highest level by experienced trainers. So highly trained are these dogs that they are actually classed as “assistance animals” meaning that they have as much access as a guide dog.

The dogs used are not bred for the role, and do not come from pet stores or breeders. The dogs that are used in the Dog Squad are sourced from RSPCA pounds and animal rescue centres , which means the dogs themselves often come from a traumatic background and by becoming a part of the programme are being saved from a fairly grim future, most would have been put down.

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The difference a companion dog makes in these returned troops lives is hard to measure as it is so monumentally huge. One only has to look at the footage such as that below to see the bond between the troops and their companion dogs.

When you consider that approximately 20% of troops returning from active duty in Afghanistan will suffer from post-traumatic stress at some level, it is easy to see just how vital this programme is.

The Dog Squad is not the only service that Young Diggers provide, far from it.

Young Diggers act as a major support for not only the returned troops, but also their families. It is the families that troops will use for support whilst on duty and after they return, so Young Diggers organises support for families so that they can be better prepared for when their family member returns from duty.

Young Diggers provides professional assistance with DVA claims, as dealing with Veterans Affairs can be confusing, time-consuming, and often complicated, particularly if someone has suffered physical or mental trauma.

Another service offered is help seeking employment. Young Diggers run programmes that assist returned soldiers find employment, and can assist with training programmes that will help prepare soldiers for regular work, both mentally and with skills training.

Young Diggers also offer emergency accommodation and provide counselling for troops and their families.

One of the reasons that Young Diggers play such an important role is that for those in the armed forces it is an organisation that they can feel comfortable with. Men and women from the armed services can deal with someone who speaks at their level, and completely understands their situation because they have walked in the same boots.

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Young Diggers are a Not-For-Profit organisation that by their own wishes receive absolutely no government funding or grants. All of the organisations activities are funded by donations received by either individuals, or companies that provide sponsorship.

Young Diggers have assisted over 7,000 of our returned troops and their families across the country, something that when I spoke with their President, John Jarrett about yesterday he was immensely proud of, and rightly so.

This ANZAC Day, we will honour the fallen and remember their sacrifice, however I also hope that we will not forget those who have returned and are still suffering.

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You can find out more about Young Diggers or make a donation via their website via this link. Young Diggers can also be found on Facebook here.

Before I go, Young Diggers are looking for a 20 seater bus with wheelchair access for their Queensland office. If anybody can assist with one they would greatly appreciate it, they can organise for repair work on the body or motor if required. If you feel you can help, just contact them via their website or phone numbers listed on there and tell them Wixxy sent you.

Lest We Forget.

Like Wixxyleaks on Facebook here

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Comments
  1. Joy Cooper says:

    What a fantastic story, Wixxy. Had never heard of this organisation before which is a shame as they do deserve greater recognition within the community.

    Wonder how much of their mega millions, from their ill-gotten gains from pokies, do the RSL clubs donate to them?

    Of course, it is sad that such an organisation needs to exist. These returned servicemen/women, & their families, should not have to seek any assistance. It should be given easily & freely as a matter of course

    • wixxy says:

      Thanks Joy,

      The amount that comes from RSL is a very small percentage indeed I gather.

      I really liked the way the Young Diggers work, they do it because there is a need for it and see it as a way of still serving

  2. hayzeee says:

    Nice one. Well done.

  3. Ray Marx says:

    Excellent stuff wixxy, these young diggers will benefit greatly. Ray Marx Vietnam Veteran.

  4. Colleen says:

    Great article Wixxy. Keep up the good work.

  5. Forgive my ignorance – I didn’t come to Australia from England until 1978 – the first time I learned of Anzac Day was reading Yr 11 texts One Day of the Year by Alan Seymour about the generational conflict between old digger father and Uni student son c.1960. Plus the poems of Wilfred Owen….every Anzac Day I read and write about my internal conflict, especially in these terms – the man nobody mentions.
    That war-horse Winston Churchill against all advice obsessively planned Gallipoli – our lads signing on for the British Empire (not our country), for an adventure, thought they were going to France, and our PM Fisher kept out of the loop even with the communication distance at the time.
    Yes I feel for those boys(and got a lot out of reading about General Monash), but what do they or we learn about NOT following blindly the politician that CAUSE the conditions to slaughter and life-long injuries to individuals, families, societies?
    Now, professional soldiers are employed who are willing and trained to fight and not forced to.
    My husband was so close to conscription to Vietnam, and I don’t disregard the career soldier next door who did, then continued with secret jobs shooting other SE Asians.
    When do we dampen this current Howard led campain of vigour for the sacrifices made of our youngest and fittest and not speak about the leaders and generals whose decisions left the countries decimated? And remember the other sides loss eg Iraqi civilian deaths.

    It was finally great to hear the recognition of the indigenous soldiers and their families who joined and served equally – to return ignored and denied. Is Christopher Pyne et al are going to try and rub that fact out of the reason for processions too.

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