Let’s Give More Meaning To The Words “Lest We Forget”

For hundreds of thousands of Australian men and women that have come back from war, it is something that they cannot forget. Something that they have to carry with them and struggle with everyday. Whether they served in WWI, WWII, Vietnam, Korea, East Timor, Iraq, Afghanistan – the horrors of war injure these people not just physically, but psychologically as well.

Mental health specialists have recently said that 30% of Australian soldiers return home with a mental illness – post traumatic stress disorder, heightened anxiety, social isolation, depression, sucidial and self harming tendancies – and these numbers increase with the length of the person’s tour, as well as the length of time that they are at home without receiving help.

 

The ‘Hack’ program on Triple J today discussed the issue of people coming home from war and the mental health help that they receive after they return home. Podcast is here:

http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/triplej/hack/daily/hack_wed_2013_4_24.mp3

 

In the program a spokesperson from the Department of Veteran Affairs said that they spend only $160 million per year on mental health services for veterans.

It is also brought up that it is a part of training for the armed forces that one does not become emotional about the things that they might see, or have to do, and that the job must be carried out. Which is a mantra that is regularly played out, and becomes a problem for these men and women after they return home, as it manifests as an inability to talk to others about your experiences either as an inability to express yourself, or not wanting to burden your loved ones with those things.

 

There are many veterans that do struggle a lot settling back into life at home, and the idea of not being in a war zone, being able to walk down the street and not have people trying to kill you.

The sounds of door slamming and cars starting, begin to sound to like bomb blasts and gun shots. The simplest of every day tasks begin to make you aggressive and overwhelmingly stressed. You take it out on the people that love you and you begin to feel like you are constantly angry. The faces of people you killed in war and the scenes of horror and destruction, come back to you in dreams and during the day – in the worst case scenarios, the soldier ends up killing themselves, or a member of their family.

These are not uncommon for soldiers returned from war, and many Australian veterans feel that the appropriate amount of care is not available for those who do need it.

 

Soldier On is a new charity started by two veterans in April 2012, to provide help for soldiers wounded both physically and psychologically and they do a lot of good work – http://soldieron.org.au

 

It’s the eve of ANZAC Day in Australia, and while it is not my opinion that there is anything bad about ANZAC Day, I do believe that some extra thought and money, should be put towards assuring that the men and women who serve our country should be provided with the best psychological help possible.

When you go to a service tomorrow, or you here the words on the evening news, think a little more deeply about those three words – “Lest We Forget”.

Let’s give them more meaning in terms of mental health. 

Climate Change – coming to a cinema near you!

James Balog is the founder of an environmental activist group called Earth Vision Trust whose mission it is to create “innovative visual evidence of our impact on ice, air, water, forests and wildlife”.

 

Balog and his team have spent the last 5 years in Greenland, Iceland and North America, filming ice bergs and glaciers forming, and falling back into the sea. They believe that they have found definitive proof that climate change is causing our glaciers to melt – our seas to rise, our temperature levels of change and rise, and our global environment to change drastically.

 

“The only way that you can really try to put it into scale with human reference, is if you imagine Manhattan, and all of a sudden, all of those buildings just start to rumble and quake and this whole massive city just breaking apart in front of your eyes.” – Quote from James Balog in ‘Chasing Ice’.

 

‘Chasing Ice’ is the result of the past 5 years of work that Earth Vision Trust has put into filming hard, cold (no pun intended) evidence that climate change is the reason for the changes in the environment, in temperatures, and in weather patterns, that we have begun to experience globally over the past decade, and becoming ever more frightening in the past few years.

 

Australia has always been subject to extreme weather conditions – droughts, floods, cyclones, bushfires. But as of late, is no secret to anyone that these extremities in our weather, have become a lot more frequent and a lot less far between. This list, which is not exhaustive, illustrates the intensity of extreme weather events, that have occurred in Australia over the past 8 years:

2006

–      January; Central Coast Bushfires; NSW

–      March; Cyclone Larry; Queensland

–      March; Cyclone Monica; Queensland

2007

–      June; Hunter Valley Floods; NSW

–      June; Gippsland Floods; Victoria

2008

–      February; Mackey Floods; Queensland

2009

–      February; Black Saturday Bushfires; Victoria

2010

–      March; Queensland Floods

–      September; Victorian Floods

–      December; Carnarvon Floods; WA

2011

–      January; Queensland Floods

–      January; Victorian Floods

–      August; Gippsland Floods; Victoria

2012

–      February/March; NSW Floods

–      February/March; Victorian Floods

–      February/March; Queensland Floods

–      June; Gippsland Floods; Victoria

2013

–      January; Victorian Floods

–      January; Queensland Floods

 

Yesterday’s edition of Triple J’s, ‘Hack’, talked about Climate Change in Australian politics, and the film ‘Chasing Ice’ – if you have a spare half an hour, and like me, understand the impacts of climate change, but don’t necessarily understand how it all happens, then it comes highly recommended.

http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/triplej/hack/daily/hack_thu_2013_4_4.mp3

 

‘Hack’s Sophie McNiell, talks to National Geographic photographer, and director of the film ‘Chasing Ice’, Jeff Orlowski about what it was like to watch polar ice caps melt before his eyes, and glaciers the size of Manhattan city just fall into the sea. The team made this incredible documentary using time lapse cameras which they situated on top of glaciers in some instances, and collected their film and data over half a decade, and have now made the most compelling piece of evidence for the impacts of climate change, and the first recorded instance of this occurring.

As Orlowski says, Balog set out to “visualize something inherently invisible”, and that is exactly what the film does. ‘Chasing Ice’ was screened for the first time last night in Melbourne, and opens across selected states (including NSW) on April 18.

 

Check it all out at http://www.chasingice.com and if you don’t see the film, do the extra reading – it’s homework worth doing.