Letter to Prime Minister calls for veteran retreats
PALMER United Party Senator Jacqui Lambie has written to Prime Minister Tony Abbott to ask that Vietnam veteran Roger Dwyer's Camp Gregory concept is taken nationwide to help support war veterans.
The letter to the PM:
I write to you as Palmer United Party's spokesperson for Veterans' Affairs and as an advocate for Vietnam Veteran Mr Roger Dwyer.
I recently met with Mr Dwyer, other former members of the Australian Defence force and their families at the Veterans' retreat, Camp Gregory.
On behalf of Mr Dwyer and his many supporters, I invite you and your ministers to view that meeting on a short YouTube film and hear his important messages.
Mr Dwyer essentially believes that the establishment of a national network of Veterans' camping retreats Australia wide - with similar facilities at and purposes to, Camp Gregory - will save our nation lives and money.
As you will no doubt hear, one of the main benefits of Mr Dwyer's proposed national network of Veterans' Camping Retreats, will be to help connect young Diggers and their families - with older Diggers and their families.
It's become obvious to me that camping retreats are a great informal way for veterans and ex-ADF (whether they be young or old) - of connecting and socializing with friends, family and people who've shared similar life experiences.
In the course of our conversation, Mr Dwyer also emphasized how important it was for the children and family of veterans to participate in activities designed to bring them together, in a safe environment to share their feelings and experiences.
Reports and testimony to me by Veterans and their families indicate that the restorative and healing effects of those informal meetings, in an Australian bush or wilderness environment can't be underestimated or easily dismissed by community leaders.
I ask that you or your staff contact Mr Dwyer and support in every way possible his request for help to obtain additional resources (demountable buildings etc.) for Camp Gregory.
I also ask that you help develop and fund a national policy, which would see the creation and promotion of a national network of Veterans' camping retreats (for young and old diggers) in every state and territory of our nation, including my state of Tasmania.
Unfortunately, my meetings with a broad range of our Veterans have also confirmed that the mistakes of the past - particularly the Vietnam War era, are still being repeated today.
Proof of this regrettable fact is the high rate of suicide and self-harm that now occurs within our veteran and ex-ADF community - specifically in our young diggers. This fact was brought to my attention in another conversation I had with a young, wounded, former commando, Geoff Evans, who now works as a Veteran's advocate.
Federal Government support for Mr Dwyer's proposal for a national network of camping retreats would be a big step in the right direction in order to properly address the important issue of Veterans' health and the health of their families.
I look forward to a positive response.