Army veteran helps young soldiers

WHEN former soldier Geoff Pickering read our story about a 21-year-old soldier's trouble adjusting to normal life after fighting in Afghanistan, he knew the feeling exactly.

Having served in the Australian Army for 23 years, Mr Pickering is well aware of the psychological trauma that comes with serving your country in a foreign land.

The constant edginess, the impatience, the feeling that few understand.

Which is why Mr Pickering, who served from 1962-85, wanted to share some thoughts with young soldiers who may be doing it tough.

"They need to remember, they should be extremely proud of the job they've done for this country and take comfort in the fact very few people could have done it better," he said.

"They have nothing to be ashamed of or regret what they've done while in uniform."

He said it was vital returned soldiers understood they were not alone.

"Know that you're not the only one who is impatient and intolerant," Mr Pickering said.

"Often we believe we don't have a problem; we think it's the people around us who are slow-thinking and slow-acting.

"But sometimes you just have to keep your mouth shut and open your ears."

Mr Pickering said staying in close contact with service mates was the best way to get through the hard times.

"Stick together, keep up association with people who have experienced the same things," he said.

"There could also be mutual benefit in returned ex-service folk offering their skills, experience and vigour to volunteer groups such as the scouts, Rural Fire Service or SES."

When we spoke to a Warwick mother about her son's return from Afghanistan, she mentioned he and his mates were reluctant to see a psychologist, but Mr Pickering recommended they did.

"Don't for a minute be reluctant to seek medical advice," he said.

"They should talk to people and share their stories to get it off their chest; share their experiences with others and listen."

Veterans wishing to seek medical advice or counselling can visit dva.gov.au or phone the Veterans and Veterans Family Counselling hotline on 1800 011 046.

Do you think soldiers returning from war should have mandatory counselling or therapy?

This poll ended on 30 April 2013.

Current Results

Yes.

70%

No, it should be their choice.

29%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.



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