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

Blog post | 25 Apr 2019

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

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

This is not the case.

Here's how the DVA is fulfilling the mental health and wellbeing needs of Australia's large and diverse veteran community, as well as their families.

The DVA keeps you fighting fit

The DVA offers a range of services and care for veterans who are injured, need mental health support or want to improve their general wellbeing.

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

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

But the DVA is more than the primary provider of medical and mental health services if injuries occur as a result of service. Knowledge of the veteran experience has changed, and so have DVA services. The organisation is increasingly focused on maintaining wellness — and family life.

Putting veterans at ease

The Open Arms website for veterans and their families offers tailored information and self-help tools for the serving and ex-serving community.

About 4 in every 5 veterans are male, and many have told the DVA that they are unlikely to deal with a wellbeing issue or see a health professional without the encouragement of a loved one.

Giving spouses and veterans' families resources about veteran issues makes it more likely that their serving or ex-serving partner will seek help.

Because a veteran doesn't serve alone, Open Arms also helps family members look after their own health.

Support for professionals

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

Open Arms Professionals has information about the training and support offered to enable the ongoing delivery of high quality mental health assessment and clinical counselling for Australian veterans and their families.

Where to 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.

  • Open Arms — Veterans & Families Counselling is a free and confidential counselling service for members of the serving and ex-serving community, and their families, 24 hours a day: 1800 011 046.

  • Register for MyService to make it easier to access DVA services online.

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