Mick Heffernan, rest in peace....
I'd never even heard of him until tonight, when I was watching the ABC 7.30 Report.
But Mick Heffernan and I shared some history. We both served in Vietnam. We were both psychologically scarred by the experience. We both applied to the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) for recognition of our psychological damage. We both found this to be a bureaucratic battle par excellence.
In 1997, I won my battle with DVA. But I nearly didn't. There were several times during that insane battle with the bureaucratic blockers employed by that department when I seriously considered suicide. But due to a lot of support from other veterans who had been through "the mill", I hung in there and eventually the bastards ran out of bullshit and conceded.
Tragically, in July this year, Mick Heffernan, unable to cope any longer with the insane situation of a government department (whose stated purpose it is to support veterans) doing its utmost to deny him recognition for his war-caused psychological trauma, entered one of their offices, and there he took his own life.
My heart goes out to his family and friends. It must have ripped them to pieces.
Except for the 7.30 Report's story several weeks after the event, (transcript in the link provided above), the media has ignored this story. Google: zilch. Yahoo: zilch. Ergo, I conclude, print media: zilch.
It would require a serious media blackout to achieve this kind of media "non-event". It seems that a dog getting run over by a drunk gets more media attention than a veteran who commits suicide on the premises of the Department of Veterans Affairs to highlight his plight. So, readers, you tell me, are we looking at yet another example of the Howard Government's expertise at "Total Information Management" ???
Correction: there has been adequate media coverage of Mick's demise. It was my crappy search which was the problem. If you use the string Michael Heffernan veteran melbourne in Google, you get plenty of results.
And whilst we're about it, let's not forget a few details about Mr Billson, the Minister for Veterans Affairs.