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Victoria Cross winner calls for military bosses to be sacked over treatment of veterans

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Highly decorated former SAS soldier Ben Roberts-Smith has called for the sacking of Australian Defence Force bosses due to their lack of support for veterans.

The Victoria Cross recipient has discouraged young people from joining the ADF, claiming leaders prioritise their careers over the wellbeing of returned servicemen and women.

Mr Roberts-Smith has supported the call for a royal commission into veteran suicide, a campaign headed by the mother of deceased hero David Finney.

“We need to investigate, and people need to be accountable,” Julie-Anne Finney tells John Stanley.

David spent two decades serving Australia in the Navy. In February, he lost his battle with PTSD after being told by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (DVA) he had to wait six months to see a psychiatrist.

In coming days parliament will introduce a bill to transition returned ADF soldiers to the DVA, but Ms Finney says it’s not enough.

“Everything now just becomes a band-aid fix. Veteran suicide has been going on since the first world war, and probably previous to that. We need a royal commission to investigate every aspect of where the system breaks.”

Ms Finney has been in Canberra petitioning politicians and the Chief of Defence, but was left dissatisfied.

“They listened, but there wasn’t really a response.”

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Ms Finney has a personal message for anyone who shares her son’s experience, reminding them not to give up.

“Australia loves veterans, we really do, and we want to support you, and we’re going to find ways. I know you’ve been waiting for years, but we are going to get this happening very soon, because it needs to happen. We do love our veterans, we thank them for their service.”


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Image: Getty/Peter Parks

John Stanley