Saturday, May 13, 2017

Australia Veterans Joining Together to Save Lives of Other Veterans

'He had 10 knives and a machete': The unvarnished truth about veteran suicides
Sydney Morning Herald
David Wroe
May 13, 2017
Andrew "Mung" Perry, an Air Force sharpshooter who had spent eight months in Afghanistan watching the backs of other Australian troops, tried eight times to kill himself after he returned, with some incidents requiring police tactical response teams. On the eighth attempt, in December 2015, he took his life.
One of the good moments Kamaia Alexander had with her stepfather after he came back from Afghanistan was when he was in hospital recovering from a suicide attempt. That day was like the old times when they had joked and played pranks together.
Andrew "Mung" Perr was an Air Force sharpshooter who had spent eight months in Afghanistan.

"We made his escape plan. Our plan was to get the food trays and skate our way out. We forgot that home was actually uphill, not down. It was a good plan in our heads," she says.

But there were mostly bad moments, like one afternoon in bushland north-east of Darwin. Alexander was just 18 at the time.

"He had 10 knives and a machete on his person. He had carved some words into his legs," she says.

"We spent from 4.30 in the afternoon to midnight to slowly convince him to get rid of each knife.

"Once I got him down to one knife, I got him to drop it and I ended up just lying on the dirt with him and giving him a hug and letting him cry."
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Australian veterans joining forces in the fight against military suicide
Sydney Morning Herald
David Wroe
May 13, 2017

On New Year's Day, Garth Camac got a call from a former soldier under his command telling him that a mutual friend was in trouble.

Garth Camac served on two tours of Iraq and was also commander of a unit that lost five of its members in Malaysia in 1993. Photo: Robert Shakespeare

The mutual friend, also an ex-soldier, had taken a potentially fatal cocktail of drugs. He was also threatening to kill himself. He'd just passed out while on the phone to the man who was now calling Camac for help.

Camac, who has a lengthy history working with struggling ex-military personnel and is now associated with a group called Warriors Return, hit the phones and summoned the cavalry in Queensland.

"I was able to co-ordinate police and ambulance and other mates to get involved and get him into ICU and he's now recovering well," Camac recalls.

Three months later, another case emerged. Ashley Meek, a veteran who'd served in Iraq and East Timor and gone on to become a South Australian policeman, had posted a Facebook message stating "F--- the police, F--- the Army" and indicating he was going to kill himself.

Though Camac didn't know him, they had at different times served in the same battalion. Once again, a network of veterans kicked into gear, contacting emergency services and each other to be ready to provide support. State police were already on the case, but this time everyone was too late. Meek walked into the hospital in the small town of Cowell, 500 kilometres west of Adelaide, and killed himself in front of medical staff.
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