Digital art for the tele
Digital art for the tele

ADF veteran suicide: ‘Call a Royal Commission before Christmas’

Pressure is mounting on Prime Minster Scott Morrison to call a royal commission into the shocking rate of veteran suicide before the year finishes.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese, met with Julie-Ann Finney for the second time whose son David died in February, and has urged the PM to "commit to the inquiry" now.

"Julie-Ann is showing extraordinary courage and she is speaking for the families of so many veteran families who will be mourning their son or daughters this Christmas," Mr Albanese said.

"The right thing to do would be to commit to it now before Christmas to give families some comfort that these issues will be looked at independently which is what is needed. The figures are horrific."

 

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese and mother Julie-Ann Finney who lost her son Dave in February. Picture: Chris Pavlich
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese and mother Julie-Ann Finney who lost her son Dave in February. Picture: Chris Pavlich

 

Ms Finney, who will be spending her first Christmas without her son, met with Mr Albanese in Sydney to wrap a yellow ribbon as a poignant reminded of veterans still struggling.

"I am incredibly grateful to Anthony for reaching out to me to remember our veterans and their families at this time of the year," Ms Finney said.

"While a lot of us are enjoying the festivities, there is so much sadness around veteran issues. His support for a Royal Commission goes a long way in giving hope."

 

Julie-Ann will spend her first Christmas without her son. Picture: Chris Pavlich
Julie-Ann will spend her first Christmas without her son. Picture: Chris Pavlich

Ms Finney also laid a bunch of wattle flowers which were traditionally placed with fallen Australian soldiers before burial and also appears on many Australian Defence Force medals, colours, standards, guidons and banners.

Last month ­Berejiklian government made the ­surprise announcement it would join calls for a royal commission into ­defence deaths at The Daily Telegraph's Save Our Heroes summit.

More than 270,000 Australians have signed the change.org petition calling for a royal commission.

Mr Albanese, who backed the calls earlier this month, said the statistics "don't tell the human story"

"These are people who have made a commitment to defend Australia on behalf of all us and anyone who goes into defence force makes an enormous commitment to their nation," he said.

"A royal commission with the power it has and independence from government and the Defence Force, will provide a comprehensive analysis of why these suicide figures are so high."

AFGHANISTAN VETERAN 'ABANDONED' BY DEFENCE

A content Ryan Goodwin went to Afghanistan but it was a shattered man who returned to Australia.

He was abandoned by Defence and left without hope in the lead up to his suicide death on December 9, his shattered family says.

The 39-year-old former lance corporal is among more than 400 veterans who have taken their own lives since 2001.

His family has now joined The Daily Telegraph's Save Our Heroes campaign call for a Royal Commission into the shocking rate of military suicide.

"It wasn't until Ryan's funeral that we found out how well respected and sought after he was in the military so if this happened to him, it can happen to anyone," Ryan's sister Lauren told The Telegraph yesterday.

Lance corporal Ryan Goodwin.
Lance corporal Ryan Goodwin.

 

"We are pleading with the Prime Minister to not let any other family go through what we are going through."

Scott Morrison has not ruled out calling a Royal Commission and has said he would consider whether to hold an inquiry over the summer break.

 

Ryan toured Afghanistan from 2010-2011, serving as a crew commander with the Australian Light Armoured Vehicle (ASLAV).

He was discharged in 2012 and his family says he never recovered from his period of service and if more help had been available he might still be alive.

In addition to trauma suffered during war, Ryan witnessed the road death of a mate and never recovered.

"He is absolutely not the same person. What happened to one of his best friends on base, he was tragically killed in a motorbike accident at Enoggera Barracks and Ryan was never the same," Ms Goodwin said. "The guy was an 18-year-old and Ryan witnessed it and it somewhat destroyed him. After that he got no counselling provided from the Defence Force."

His family never found out what happened to Ryan on his tour of Afghanistan, but it changed his life - and theirs - forever.

"One can only imagine the horrors he witnessed first hand from modern warfare and what he saw when he was deployed," Ms Goodwin said.

"He was not the same person when he came back."

Following his discharge, Ryan "lost his passion" for the ADF and tried to find jobs similar to the military but was continually knocked back.

"Ryan applied for jobs like in Border Force and the feedback used to be he wasn't good at conflict resolution, meanwhile he served in conflict zones," Ms Goodwin said.

"And that just made him feel like he wasn't good enough."

The family is dreading their first Christmas without Ryan.

"We had his funeral last week and instead of families wrapping up presents and looking forward to Christmas, yesterday we were bringing home his ashes to South Australia," Ms Goodwin said.

"Defence failed in their care. We as a family back calls for a Royal Commission because I don't want Ryan being another statistic or number.

"His life matters more now that he is not living."

Six veterans have taken their lives in the past month.

Lifeline 13 11 14

 

 

His family says he was abandoned and left shattered in the lead up to his death.
His family says he was abandoned and left shattered in the lead up to his death.