21 Jul 2013

Australian vets finding it difficult to get help for PTSD

10:50 am on 21 July 2013

The number of young Australian soldiers with post traumatic stress disorder continues to rise at an alarming rate. Many veterans say they are finding it difficult to get the help they need.

Suicide is now thought to be claiming more lives than the battlefield.

The ABC reports an estimated 30% of those who serve will return with some form of stress related mental illness.

But it says getting help is proving to be a frustrating and difficult process with potentially dangerous consequences.

A leading trauma psychiatrist says bureaucratic hurdles put up by the Department of Veteran Affairs is making the situation worse.

Dr Andrew Khoo said the earlier the treatment can start, the better the results

"It's a bureaucratic maze that certainly can take years to resolve and during which time the person may not have access to treatment."

He said the system for processing veterans through the DVA needs to be streamlined and simplified.

The Department of Veteran Affairs said it is addressing the time taken to process claims through a range of measures.

The DVA also said it is preparing itself to meet the needs of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, including a potential increase in demand for mental health services.