Vietnam Veterans Association battle homelessness

UNSEEN PROBLEM: Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia Queensland’s Paul Cooke, Gwen Moseley, Rob Moseley with Here to Home’s Charmaine Mills prepare for Exercise Stone Pillow at Remembrance House in Burpengary.
UNSEEN PROBLEM: Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia Queensland’s Paul Cooke, Gwen Moseley, Rob Moseley with Here to Home’s Charmaine Mills prepare for Exercise Stone Pillow at Remembrance House in Burpengary. Jorge Branco

SUPPORT groups across the region are joining forces to battle one of the biggest issues facing war veterans: homelessness.

Vietnam Veterans Association Australia Queensland Branch senior vice president Paul Cooke thinks that veterans could make up as many as one in five of the country's homeless people.

The Federal Government's 2008 Which Way Home? A New Approach to Homelessness report estimated 10 per cent of users of homeless services for older Australians were veterans.

"It's the same as the suicide rate amongst the veterans, the younger veterans in particular," Mr Cooke said.

The Vietnam Veterans have partnered with Women of the ADF, the Young Diggers Association and Here to Home to form the Remembering Heroes Project.

It will be used to raise awareness of issues facing defence and ex-defence personnel and their families and providing appropriate community linking.

Mr Cooke served with No. 2 Squadron in the Royal Australian Air Force and said he was lucky to have adjusted well to civilian life.

But the Vietnam veteran said he knew of many returned service men and women who hadn't fared as well.

"One of the insidious things about PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is usually about five to 10 years down the track it starts coming back," he said.

"Unless you're on medications or under treatments quite often you can't handle it, so you'll run away and sleep in a tent or go out bush."

It's based out of Remembrance House at Burpengary, a drop-in centre for veterans that offers help to defence and ex-defence personnel and their families.

The group's first fundraising event is Exercise Stone Pillow, a sleep out aimed at the issue of homelessness.



WHAT: Exercise Stone Pillow

WHY: Raise awareness of and money for homeless veterans

WHEN: Saturday and Sunday October 18-19

Where: Remembrance House, 61 Progress Rd, Burpengary

TICKETS: $25 single or $50 family from www.womenoftheadf

INFORMATION: Phone 3888 7001

Topics:  homelessness ptsd veterans vietnam war

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