There are calls for veterans who suffer post-traumatic stress disorder to be better protected when questioned by police. Photo: Getty Images
Broken veterans suffering post-traumatic stress disorder should be better protected when questioned by police so they are given the psychological help they need rather than being locked up.
The state opposition is calling for stressed veterans to be classified as “vulnerable persons” so they are given access to legal help before they are questioned – just like children and Indigenous people are.
All of this could have been avoided if the police had stopped the interview and contacted a lawyer
RSL NSW chief executive officer Glenn Kolomeitz
Shadow veterans affairs minister Guy Zangari is calling for changes to the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Legislation, because there are no protections for veterans diagnosed as suffering PTSD as a result of active service.
There are calls for veterans who suffer post-traumatic stress disorder to be better protected when questioned by police. Photo: Michelle Smith
“There is ample evidence to show many veterans suffering PTSD find it difficult to represent themselves properly when arrested. They need to be protected by the system, not crushed by it,” he said.
RSL NSW chief executive officer Glenn Kolomeitz is a lawyer who has dealt with veterans who have been highly confused and made admissions to crimes they had not committed when questioned by police.
One of his clients was a senior former officer who thought he was answering questions as a victim – not as a perpetrator – and was dragged through the court system only for a magistrate to rule he needed psychological help.
“We had him diverted out of the criminal justice system into treatment – all of this could have been avoided if the police had stopped the interview and contacted a lawyer and informed them that they had a veteran with suspected PTSD,” Mr Kolomeitz, who is also an Afghanistan war veteran, said.
He said some veterans suffered from a behaviour known as gratuitous concurrence, where they always agree with people in positions of authority.
“Australia has deployed many of these younger veterans on multiple and protracted deployments to complex theatres in the Middle East and elsewhere, if they come back mentally broken, do we as a community, owe them something? Absolutely we do,” Mr Kolomeitz said.
“And that responsibility extends to ensuring that legislative safeguards are in place in the event these people enter into the criminal justice system.”