Mates here for scarred soldiers recovering from war
BRUISED, broken and lost, Australian soldiers who have taken their own lives now outnumber the ones lost on battlefields over the past 17 years.
It is a damning statistic.
But it is one that will hopefully begin to reduce as the RSL's "Mates4Mates" program continues to protect ex-servicemen and women from the scars they carry from defending our nation.
That mission will be bolstered in Queensland, where Mates4Mates will open a Family Recovery Centre and national headquarters in Brisbane today.
The goal of Mates4Mates is to link former soldiers with the help they need, whether their injuries are physical, emotional, mental or they are simply battling to re-adjust to life after the military.
Mates4Mates, which launched in 2013, estimates that at least five people a week would take their own lives if that lifeline wasn't there.
NATIONAL 24/7 CRISIS SERVICES
Chief executive Simon Sauer said the rate of mental illness and suicide among ex-serving Australins was alarming.
"We would see at least five people very week who say to us that if not for Mates4Mates, they'd have committed suicide," he said.
"It's a tragic statistic that since 1999, more current and former serving men and women have taken their own lives, than have been killed in conflict."
Mates4Mates already has family recovery centres in Townsville and Hobart.
The Brisbane site will be officially opened this morning from 9.30am, with Victoria Cross recipient Dan Keighran and Brisbane Broncos' Josh McGuire taking part in activities with former ADF personnel.
Former Army Gunner Kiel goodman, 29, was deployed to Afghanistan in 2007 and again in 2010.
In 2012 he discharged himself as he fought alcohol and later drug addiction.
He was haunted by thoughts of suicide.
"If it wasn't for Mates4Mates, I would certainly be dead, no doubt about it," he said.
"I went from a model soldier to a heavy drinking, drug-taking mess in just a few short years.
"Even though I was at rock bottom, I still took real offence to people who were trying to help because It hink it was a sign of weakness."
He said a Mates4Mates barbecue changed all that, and four months after meeting others facing the same demons, he joined.
In 2016, Mates4Mates has been contacted 25,000 times from "Mates" or families needing help.
It has supplied 4000 psychological consultations and 5000 physical rehabilitation sessions.
Want to know more? Head to Mates4Mates.org or phone 1300 4 MATES (1300 4 62837)