Vietnam Veterans Day at ANZAC Park, Corner Tank and Goondoon Street.

Photo Christopher Chan / The Observer
Vietnam Veterans Day at ANZAC Park, Corner Tank and Goondoon Street. Photo Christopher Chan / The Observer Christopher Chan GLADV180812ESSA

Thousands of war veterans living in harsh conditions

WHEN Kevin Collins left the navy, he didn't visit the doctor for 20 years.

Not because he wasn't sick, but because he simply "didn't want to waste the doctor's time".

These days, the Hervey Bay RSL Sub-Branch secretary wants veterans to know there is help available and they are as important as everyone else.

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It comes after concerns were raised about a Hervey Bay war veteran living rough.

"The homelessness is increasing with veterans, especially the younger ones in Australia," he said.

"I can tell you we've got more than 1600 registered members in this sub-branch, the second highest in the state and there's a hell of a lot more out there."

Last month, local taxi driver, Scott Healy contacted the Chronicle after picking up a man from Hervey Bay hospital.

During the car ride to the man's house, Mr Healy learned the gentleman was a war veteran.

 

Hervey Bay RSL Sub-Branch secretary Kev Collins.
Hervey Bay RSL Sub-Branch secretary Kev Collins. Alistair Brightman

He had broken his elbow and suffered from severe Parkinson's disease.

"When I helped take his things into his home, it was obvious he could not look after himself," he said.

"He was sleeping in his loungeroom and his place looked worse than something an animal would live in.

"A decent human being would not let their dog live like that."

As he left the man at his home, Mr Healy contacted his Aunty who is involved with the DVA to offer assistance as well as had someone organise Pres Care and Meals on Wheels.

"(The man) is now being looked after but I am sure there are many others living like this because they are too proud to ask for help," Mr Healy said.

According to Mr Collins, Mr Healy is right.

Mr Collins said there were many veterans who accepted their living conditions as they were too proud to ask for help.

"It also depends on what headspace they're in at the time," he said.

"The younger ones especially don't want to ask for help but when they get older that's when they start coming in to see us."

With the number of veterans living in squalor at an all-time high, Mr Collins urged anyone who needed help to contact the RSL sub-branch on 4197 7477.



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