Wounded, Injured and Ill Diggers' Forum 2011
Wounded, injured and ill soldiers and their families were invited by then Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Ken Gillespie as well as service providers and senior commanders. Feedback generated aims to enhance Army's comprehensive and integrated approach to the management of wounded, injured and ill people and their families.
Some of the issues addressed during the event included medical treatment in theatre and at home, communication, rehabilitation and access to support services. The Chief of Army opened the forum and said it didn't matter how a soldier suffered an injury because the trauma and issues facing their families were the same.
Diggers have a say at forum
Originally published in Army News.
More than 115 guests attended the Chief of Army's second Wounded, Injured and Ill Diggers Forum held at the Hyatt Hotel in Canberra on June 1. Wounded, injured and ill soldiers and their families were invited by the former Chief of Army Lieutenant General Ken Gillespie as well as service providers and senior commanders to attend. The forum is a development opportunity to ensure Army listens and learns from soldiers and their families.
Feedback generated aims to enhance Army's comprehensive and integrated approach to the management of wounded, injured and ill people and their families. Some of the issues addressed during the event included medical treatment in theatre and at home, communication, rehabilitation and access to support services.
The CA opened the forum and said it didn't matter how a soldier suffered an injury because the trauma and issues facing their families were the same. "Last year we received some blunt feed-back from our people and the senior leadership now has first-hand knowledge of a lot of the issues," Lieutenant General Gillespie said.
"We have had a year for development and can see there is starting to be a belief that when we say we care about soldiers, we really do want to rehabilitate them and keep them in uniform.
"If we can't do that, then we want to transition them with dignity and aspirations for a future that is much brighter than they might have had with old Army policies."
Dual Minister for Veteran's Affairs and Defence Science and Personnel Warren Snowdon said both portfolios had responsibilities to wounded, injured and ill soldiers.
"This provides me with a unique opportunity to work with you while you are in the service and also work with you if you transition out of the service," Mr Snowdon said.
"What we need to do is accept our responsibility to you, as anyone in uniform has a unique place in our society and when you put on that uniform you accept the responsibility no other person accepts in this country."
Signaller Gary Wilson, 2nd Commando Regiment, was seriously wounded and spent two months in a coma as a result of the June 2010 Black Hawk crash in Afghanistan, in which three Australian commandos and an American soldier were killed. After discharging from hospital in November 2010, Signaller Wilson has been undergoing intensive rehabilitation. He said the forum helped enable soldiers and their families to discuss ways Army could improve the way they looked after people in similar situations.
"Ultimately, I would like to be able to get back to medical class one and stay in my line of work with the 2nd Commando Regiment, but at the moment, that is a long time away," Signaller Wilson said. "I will leave if I become no longer useful to the Army, but I feel I still have a lot to offer."
Signaller Wilson's wife, Renee, said families would benefit from having a single point of contact. This could improve communication between the external organisations and Army.
"2nd Commando's frontline management model for families and wounded, injured or ill diggers is incredible as they provide personal assistance with a one-person contact," Mrs Wilson said. "It provided a great source of contact for me and even to this day, if I have a problem with an external organisation, my first call is to the unit as they deal with the issue and I don't have the stress I would have if that wasn't there."
Defence said many changes had been made to improve the care and support provided to members since the 2010 Wounded, Injured and Ill Diggers Forum. Director of Army Health Colonel Len Brennan said Army had been working to increase support provided to members and their families.
"Since last year's forum, Army has strategically placed full-time Army Casualty Administration Support Officers (ACASO) and part-time Regional Casualty Administration Support Officers (RCASO) around the country to coordinate support requirements."
Other new support mediums include the Wounded Digger Website, the Simpson Packs, and increased use of the welfare-board framework.
"Feedback from the 2011 Wounded, Injured and Ill Diggers Forum enables Army to improve current processes and support. The forum enables us to listen and learn from our members and their families," Colonel Brennan said.