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Pair speak of insidious disorder hurting our war veterans

Coffs Harbour war veterans Bob Payne and Scott Seccombe with fellow local veteran Grant Roder.
Coffs Harbour war veterans Bob Payne and Scott Seccombe with fellow local veteran Grant Roder. Trevor Veale

THEY served in vastly different conflicts a generation apart, yet Coffs Harbour veterans Bob Payne and Scott Seccombe share the same fall-out from war.

Scott says his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder became evident 10-years after his Balkans War campaign.

By that point, Bob said he had learned to live with the PTSD he'd incurred from his service during the Vietnam War.

"When I first met Scott I asked him about PTSD," Bob said.  

"Everyone who goes to war suffers PTSD in some form it's just whether they know it or not, it's insidious, it comes from the military training and all the emotions of going to war. 

Scott said it started with little things like "always being on edge", "not being able to relax", to "having a short fuse."

"I dismissed it when older veterans asked me about, there is a real stigma attached to it, I thought I was mentally tough and it wasn't going to affect me, but I started to notice the little triggers," Scott said.

"PTSD is a brain injury it is not a mental illness or a disease, it's a beast we as war veterans need to tame through treatment and management. 

"Since I acknowledged it I have received a lot of help and support from people like Bob and other war veterans here in Coffs Harbour, we are all going through the same thing.

"What's important is reaching out for that support network," he said.

Speaking openly about the consequences of their war service, veterans of the Coffs Harbour RSL Sub-Branch are highlighting the importance of Veterans Health Week, October 22 to 28.

 "A particular focus of the week is engaging the younger veterans who live in the local area, the veterans who have returned from the Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Solomons and other campaigns," Bob said.

The war veteran's social inclusion program includes events for veterans, servicemen and woman and their families with an aim of building on the strengths of the veteran community on the Coffs Coast.

A Younger Veteran's Luncheon will be held at Coffs CEX this Sunday.

"We encourage younger veterans and their partners to come along and share their experiences," Scott said.

"The interesting thing I've found is that when wives hear other war veterans talk about PTSD it often explains why their husband does things that others may not understand," he said.

A Legacy Staying-in-Touch Morning Tea will follow next Monday, along with a Nashos gathering at Nymboida on the Wednesday.

The veterans will take part in a whale watching trip at Woolgoolga on Friday and a bus trip to Grafton/Iluka is also planned.

To find out more call Scott on 0438 586 488 or Bob on 66544248.

Topics:  coffs harbour rsl sub-branch, ptsd, scott seccombe

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