It is understandable that the appointment of Minister For Veterans Affairs seems to generally go the biggest idiot on the Government Front Bench, but this latest snafu
takes the cake. I think you'll get the gist of things from this typical veteran's email to the minister:
From: Jeff ******* (Surname/email address elided)
Sent: Monday, 22 May 2006 9:24 AM
Subject: your comments about mental illness of ex servicemen
Dear Mr. Billson,
I am a third generation TPI. That means that three generations of my family have had their effective working life cut short by serving their country. This is not meant to seek sympathy from you but to establish my credentials.
"Whereas in the past the military was viewed as a place where social "misfits" did time in order to get "sorted out", such people were not suited to today's defence force, where multiple deployments to difficult environments was the norm", he said.
Did you really say this or is it a miss quote by the press?
Who are these people you are describing?
You may not realize that there are a lot of ex service men and women who are suffering from a variety of war caused psychological disorders who see this as the Minister who is supposed to be representing their problems to parliament, attempting to white wash away the problems they are suffering from, as a preexisting condition. It implies that we are responsible for our suffering because we were unfit to represent our country when we volunteered or were called up. It implies that the new recruits will be able to go to war and come back unscathed because they will be chosen from sterner stuff than they were in my grandfather’s, my father’s and my time.
I hope this isn’t your intention Minister as the ‘misfits’ of Anzac Cove, the Kokoda Track, Long Tan and so many other areas of conflict are now tainted by your comments.
We, the long suffering ‘misfits’, are already seeing our sacrifice devalued by a succession of governments, including your own, who have let the TPI payments be eroded from 100 percent of average weekly wage to now in the low 40s and in free fall. What happens next?
Do you want us to give back our medals and apologise for failing to be ‘sorted out’?
I hope you can find these superhumans who are able to endure being in ‘today’s defence force, where multiple deployments to difficult environments’ are ‘the norm’. When did that become the norm and who is responsible for making it that way?
You and your government colleagues are the ones who send us to war. I am sorry that all us ‘misfits’ failed you. Maybe next war we should send politicians to show us how we should have been better ‘suited’ to see and experience to horrors of war and not be affected by it.
Judging by the way you can hear and see the suffering of the ‘misfits’ and ignore it, indicates that you are made of that ‘sterner stuff’ we now require.
Lead on Mr. Billson.
(A Very Proud Misfit)
I'll be drafting a similar response to this bumbling ministerial fool's public outburst. I'll keep you posted.