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How military veterans and their families can access health services, mental health support

Blog post | 06 Jun 2022

Military service is physically and mentally tough and every veteran's experience is different. Not all veterans serve at war — or even overseas.

It's a common misconception that you need to have combat experience to qualify for help from the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA).

Learn about the mental health services that the DVA gives to veterans and their families.

What support does the DVA provide?

The DVA offers services for veterans who have injuries, need mental health help or want to improve their general wellbeing.

The organisation also helps veterans to maintain wellness and build healthy relationships.

To qualify for DVA help, you only need to have served one day in the Australian Defence Force. This includes the Army, Navy, Air Force and Reserves.

The DVA encourages all veterans to register with MyService as soon as they can. Linked to the MyGov online portal, MyService helps you apply for mental health support and make claims for service-related injuries or illness.

But the DVA doesn't just give medical and mental health help to people who have served. Knowledge of the veteran experience has changed, and so have DVA services.

Can families of veterans get support too?

Families of veterans can get DVA support too. This includes partners and children, regardless of age. This is through DVA’s counselling service, Open Arms.

Veteran families who face challenges, such as managing the absence of a parent, working through trauma, or dealing with childhood stressors, can get help through Open Arms.

Open Arms also provides:

  • peer support
  • mental health training programs
  • group treatment programs and workshops
  • suicide prevention and resilience training
  • crisis accommodation support

To get free, confidential support and counselling, veterans and their families can call Open Arms on 1800 011 046, 24 hours a day. They can also visit an Open Arms office, or complete an online contact form.

Support for professionals

Open Arms assists health professionals wanting to learn more about veteran care.

Open Arms Professionals has information on the training and support offered to deliver mental health assessment and clinical counselling for Australian veterans and their families.

Where else can I seek help?

  • If you or a loved one needs emergency help, call triple zero (000) immediately.

  • If you or a loved one needs crisis support now, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

  • The All-hours Support Line is a confidential telephone service for Australian Defence Force members and their families, 24 hours a day: 1800 628 036.

  • Your GP can help you or a family member make a Mental Health Treatment Plan if you or your family member has a mental health disorder.

  • Relationships Australia offers services to people, families and communities, such as counselling, mediation and family dispute resolution. You can contact them on 1300 364 277.

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