Published by The Daily Telegraph 27 April 2015 by Bruce McDougall
They are Australia’s shame — the modern-day Anzacs who served their country in wars and have been left broken, destitute and often sleeping rough on the streets.
At least 3000 damaged young war veterans are battling mental illness, drug and alcohol dependency, relationship breakdowns and often suicide.
After years of serving their country in the forces, many of them have lost their careers, their marriages, an income, and even a roof over their heads.
While Australians honoured the centenary of Gallipoli on the weekend, another group of Anzacs are asking why they have been so neglected.
More young Australians have now served in modern conflicts such as Iraq and Afghanistan than the 55,000 baby boomers who went to the Vietnam War, and thousands of them suffer the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which has plunged their lives into a downward spiral.
Suicide is believed to account for three times the numbers of deaths as Diggers killed in action in Afghanistan.
RSL LifeCare Younger Veterans Adviser Lieutenant Geoff Evans, who did two tours of Afghanistan, told The Daily Telegraph: “In some cases suicide is the ultimate choice while 3000 others live rough on our streets at night.
“This is a national tragedy and one that Australians have an obligation to fix. Tragically, many modern Australian Anzacs are homeless and without anyone to care for their battered minds and bodies.
“These men and women are heroes to Australia. They served our nation in war and now need our help.”
RSL LifeCare has launched a “100 for 100” campaign asking Australians to donate $100 each for the 100th anniversary of Anzac Day to help find a home for an initial 200 veterans from the 3000 living on the streets.
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