ANZAC DAY IS 25TH APRIL 2016
Anzac Day, 25th April 2016, is a difficult day for many if not most Veterans, especially those whose mental health has been damaged by their military service. Current ADF members whose deployment has caused damage to their mental health may also suffer on or around Anzac Day, even among those not yet diagnosed with a mental health condition. It’s important to know that the day itself is not the only day of increased risk for mental distress, worsened symptoms of mental health disorders & suicide. Many Veterans have reported feeling rising tension & increased unease from the beginning of April or earlier that last until well after Anzac day is over. The “Anzac Day Effect”, as I call it, is actually an example of the well known “Anniversary Reaction”, a peak of distress that commonly occurs on important days such as birthdays, Christmas & wedding anniversaries in the bereaved. In other words, it is normal & expected to be common. What is different, is that this common effect is made more likely and more severe in those Veterans already suffering from a mental disorder like PTSD, where reminders of military service have a more severe impact. Regardless of whether or not you have been diagnosed with a mental disorder, be aware that you and/or your Veteran mates are entering a potentially difficult period and keep an eye out for each other. If you’re worried about yourself or a mate, don’t keep quiet & hope it just passes. Ask yourself or your mate if they’re travelling ok, start a conversation about what you are feeling or about what you’ve read about the tough time that many Veterans go through around Anzac Day. The best medicine for distress around Anzac Day isn’t Alcohol, it’s airing these feelings with trusted people…….Veterans, family, friends or your doctor. Suicide results from hopelessness & involves alcohol 75% of the time. Observing Anzac Day with either no alcohol or by limiting your alcohol intake, together with a willingness to talk and awareness of the increased Anzac Day risks amongst the entire Veteran community, will, not might, save lives. To all Veterans, I wish you a solemn and special Day of remembrance, nostalgia and celebration of our national heroes, past, present & future.