With figures revealing that more soldiers have died in Australia to suicide than on active service since 1999, Walking Wounded is urging Australians to recognise the plight of returned soldiers and help support the charity to grow its mentoring and counselling services nationwide.
The not for profit group was established in 2014 to support the psychological recovery of Australian soldiers and assist them in transitioning back into the community.
Brian Freeman, founder and CEO of Walking Wounded, said registers have revealed that since 1999, 46 soldiers have been killed on active service, and 239 veterans have taken their own lives.
“Life in the defence force is so far removed from that of the average Australian,” he said. “When that way of life is taken away, for whatever reason, it’s a new battle that these soldiers face – one that can include homelessness, incarceration, family break-downs and sadly in the worst instances, suicide. “At Walking Wounded we know if we can provide returning soldiers with early mentoring and counselling, we can help stop these issues from developing. And let’s be frank, what price do we put on a life, and indeed on someone that has been brave enough to serve our country?,” Mr Freeman said.
Mr Freeman’s aim for Walking Wounded is to achieve zero tolerance of veteran suicide. “Soldiers have struggled for many years losing mates on the battlefields; we certainly shouldn’t be losing those we fought alongside, back on home soil.”
Walking Wounded launched its year-long campaign on Monday, dedicated to helping raise awareness of the plight of returned soldiers, and raise funds to help the service grow nationally. The campaign, which features ex-soldiers who have taken their own lives, has been made possible with $1 million worth of advertising space donated by oOh! as part of the Out Of Home advertising company’s 2015 Million Dollar Pitch competition. The campaign is supported with creative from BCM and public relations from Red Agency on a pro-bono agreement. Walking Wounded has also partnered with Sunny Queen Farms, raising funds for its services through the egg producer’s Eggs for Soldiers carton of eggs available in Coles.
For more information and to donate to Walking Wounded, visit www.walkingwounded.org.au