Iraq veteran’s new mission to save lives
WHEN Iraq war veteran Matt Pitt lost three mates to suicide in the space of a fortnight, he knew something had to be done to stop the misery.
The loss of purpose that veterans experience after they retire from the armed forces is often talked about, yet seldom understood.
This has led to unemployment rates that are 23 per cent higher than the rest of the population, and suicide rates that are at a horrendous 21 per cent higher than the general male population, and double the general female population among ex-serving women.
In November, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reported 33 suicide deaths among serving and ex-serving ADF personnel in 2018, and 465 suicides between 2001 and 2018.
National figures show about 5,800 ex-servicemen and women were homeless in a 12-month period and one in 10 people who are sleeping rough are veterans.
Mr Pitt said the reason he started the national charity was to help people just like him get the credit they deserve for the skills acquired while serving their country.
After serving in Iraq from 2004-2006 in two separate stints, Mr Pitt later left the military only to find his skills did not easily translate to civilian life.
"I must have applied for 50 or 60 jobs," he said.
"The first thing employers say is 'you were in the infantry, what's that?' - there are no transferable skills.
"That's where the mental health decline starts. Three of my mates took their own lives in the space of a fortnight because they felt worthless. They could only see one way out at the time."
CIS's Strive2thrive campaign will help veterans convert their military skills to civilian qualifications, improving their capacity to find employment.
Spokesman Nic Griffin said the charity had partnered with Asset College to help ex military personnel gain qualifications or gain credit for skills they already possess.
"We are asking the general public to help support veterans and raise awareness of the cause," he said.
"Finding a job for a veteran is in the best interests of the entire community."
Mr Pitt said the key was to recognise what veterans had to offer.
"When veterans leave the Defence Force, they possess a range of valuable skills that are extremely useful in the civilian space, but they don't have the qualifications to reflect their experience", he said.
"Skills in leadership, communication and risk analysis are easily found in ex-defence personnel and are useful in any role, particularly management."
Through partnering with leading training organisation, Asset College, CIS is raising funds to provide 50 veterans with nationally recognised qualifications.
To donate to the campaign or to find out more information about CIS, visit the website: cisau.org.au.
If you or someone you know needs help, it is available.
Phone Lifeline on 13 11 14; Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.