I suffered from medium level anxiety/depression over the last nine of 19 years served and have recently received a tiny payout for my pain and suffering (less than $5000). I was put through the grinder I refer to below and luckily came out of it intact — sort of.

Defence, in my honest opinion (I haven’t read their latest report and don’t intend too), are always going to behind the ball in this regard. They will circulate their reports written by all those highly paid officers sitting at desks around the country with input from all the experts and consultants they pay to make their reports read honestly and seem like they are willing to show a little bit of interest in the area.

They will stock their medical centres with antidepressants and have a select bunch of psychologists and psychiatrists on the payroll to service their needs, as I found out when I defied them but essentially the nature of the business is to put people in harm’s way and hope that they come out of it intact or at least having won the day for their side.

That is precisely why I encourage the use of drones and automation in our daily lives. It may not be the complete answer and will, I am sure, present its fair share of problems in the fullness of time but at least it might minimise the amount of human beings put in harm’s way for a few, and I emphasise, a few politicians and vested interests who bring on disgusting conflicts that see the stupid loss of life that happens on this planet daily from wars and conflict.

I am burning with anger inside after having gone through their wash and spin cycle but there isn’t anything I can do other than, as I said, hope that one day, people kill other people a little more humanely via a camera mounted in a drones nose vice being killed at short range because whenever humans kill or see someone killed it affects them. Which is exactly why with the march of technology we now kill from further away.

“Essentially, the ADF is that graphic in the Pink Floyd video of Another Brick In The Wall …”

In the meantime, recruiting will wean out a lot of those who might end up suffering from a mental illness but essentially no one can genuinely predict via psychometric tests how a person will react to a bullet whizzing past your ear or seeing your mate cop one.

And it is going to continue being this way and that is bloody sad. Young men and young women too will continue to be lured by the available money and training the Australian Defence Force offers — and suffer the consequences of those actions — maybe forever.

I was lucky. One operational deployment in all that time whereas there are others who copped three or more in just six years.

I would love to see a world where defence forces are not required but that will never happen because in my humble opinion humans, while being absolutely brilliant at times, can be complete arses too.

Essentially, the ADF is that graphic in the Pink Floyd video of Another Brick In The Wall in which you see the people going into the meat grinder. My last posting was to a training base and it is there that I got to see just how much care goes into the soldier, sailor and airman/woman. Just another bloody “brick in the wall”.

Which is exactly the reason I must continue to put across the best balanced opinion I can muster when someone comes to me wanting to know about the services because they want to join up.

*Free, confidential counselling and support is available from the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service for Australian veterans, peacekeepers and their family members. VVCS can be contacted 24 hours a day on 1800 011 046. For non-military help or information visit beyondblue.org.au, call Lifeline on 131 114 or visit this page for a detailed list of support services.

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Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey