Landmark study of PTSD announced as troops head to Iraq

A FORMER soldier has revealed just what it feels like to not be able to ask for or accept help for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for fear of letting the team down.

And he said this needed to change.

A $5 million, five-year world-first study into PTSD in veterans was announced on Wednesday as troops started being deployed to Iraq for a two-year mission to help train Iraqi soldiers.

The deployment was announced by the Federal Government on Tuesday.

The research will look into veterans less than 50 years old who have served in post-1972 conflicts and humanitarian operations including Somalia, Rwanda, East Timor, Solomon Islands, Iraq and Afghanistan and who have had PTSD.

RSL Queensland President Terry Meehan said recent reports had suggested that the number of PTSD-related suicides among former soldiers was estimated to be three times greater than the Australian losses in Afghanistan.

Brisbane-based Tim Thomas was deployed to East Timor in 2006 and then Afghanistan in 2009 and did not realise he had PTSD.

He said the hardest thing was trying to listen to people telling him he needed help.

"You don't ask for help (and) you don't accept help because it makes you appear weak and you don't want to let the team down," he said.

He said soldiers' current way of thinking was that they would let the team down if they accepted help - "completely the opposite of what we should be doing".

Mr Thomas works as a liaison officer at Mates4-Mates, an organisation that helps current and former defence force members rehabilitate if they are wounded, injured or ill.

He said the newly announced research that the Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation will complete, was the first of its kind because it would examine multiple factors, not just the mental.

Mr Thomas said Mates4-Mates would be there on return for the soldiers currently being deployed to Iraq.

Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation's chief Miriam Dwyer hoped the initiative would help reduce the prevalence and severity of mental health issues defence personnel faced.

Topics:  iraq post traumatic stress disorder ptsd soldier war veteran

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