AMA recognizes the service of Armed Forces Medical Officers

The AMA encourages former and current military personnel who are experiencing mental health problems to seek help from their physician as soon as possible. Physicians treating ex-military personnel should be aware of the ongoing and lasting psychological damage from active duty.

AMA President Professor Steve Robson – a former Royal Australian Navy medical officer – said it was difficult for anyone, including civilian doctors, to truly understand the impact active duty can have on mental health.

“On Memorial Day, I honor the lives lost in service and recognize those who are currently serving and the harm it can cause, especially serious mental health issues that can impact families and loved ones.

“As a doctor and ex-serviceman, I would urge ex-service workers to seek help from their GP sooner rather than later to deal with these issues. I understand that people might try to assert themselves, but that will only make the disease worse. And there is help out there.

“I was Medical Officer on HMAS Sydney during the first Gulf War, treating serving members who sustained serious physical and psychological injuries. In some ways, the emotional injuries left emotional scars that were more severe and disabling than most physical injuries.

“There are Medicare-funded supports that physicians should be aware of under the Veterans’ Health Check program to encourage early intervention in the transition to civilian life with a comprehensive physical and mental health assessment for veterans,” Professor Robson said.

The Chief Health Officer of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Dr. Jenny Firman said it’s important for veterans to engage with health programs early on.

“Leaving the Australian Defense Force can have a significant impact on veterans’ physical and emotional health, and the sooner veterans can access health services, the better outcomes they can achieve,” said Dr. company.

“Veterans can access a range of services through the Veteran Card to support their health and well-being. Any member of the ADF who has completed at least one day of full-time service is eligible for a veteran card, which allows them to access and pay for a wide range of health care services.

“There are resources available for primary care physicians and other veteran healthcare providers to help them understand the healthcare needs of veterans based on their unique military experience. DVA recently released Quick Reference Guides to help vendors understand the Veteran Card system and DVA program part numbers.

“Healthcare providers play a key role in the veteran support system and we are committed to ensuring that all components of the system are well supported and informed.”

For more information on resources for experienced healthcare providers, click here.

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