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Afghanistan veteran took his own life after being 'let down' by the system, Coroner finds

07 Apr 2020 Daily Mail Online

A young war veteran who suffered post-traumatic stress disorder when he returned from serving in Afghanistan took his own life after the system failed him, a coroner has ruled.

Former Australian Army private Jesse Bird, 32, was found dead in his Melbourne home in June 2017 after the Department of Veterans' Affairs knocked back multiple pleas for assistance.

He had $5.20 in his bank account at the time of his death, which came weeks after he was informed by the department his permanent impairment claim had been rejected.

Former Australian Army private Jesse Bird took his own life in 2017, aged 32

Mr Bird's ex-girlfriend Connie Boglis (pictured with Jesse) has previously slammed the Department of Veterans' Affairs over the lack of support to him. He took his  own life after the system failed him, a Coroner has ruled

An associated claim for incapacity payments was still being processed and was later approved after Mr Bird's death.

Coroner Jacqui Hawkins handed down her findings into Mr Bird's death on Tuesday, where she ruled he was let down by the system designed to help him. 

'There appeared to be a lack of care, attention and proactive support, leaving Jesse with the belief that the only choice he had was to give up,' the Coroner said.

'The mountainous paperwork, complex terminology, extensive legal and medical requirements, subsequent delays and financial stressors all appear to have exacerbated his mental illness.

The Coroner also recommended a string of changes, including a public awareness campaign for veterans and simplifying the claims process. 

Mr Bird was a private with the Townsville-based 1RAR Infantry Battalion before he was deployed to serve in Afghanistan in 2009, where he witnessed a friend killed improvised explosive device while on duty.

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Mr Bird was discharged from service due to an injured shoulder that required an operation when he returned from Afghanistan in 2010. 

He developed post-traumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder and alcohol abuse as he struggled to hold down a job and became financially reliant on his parents.

A defence department review into Mr Bird's death in 2017 made 19 recommendations to overhaul the compensation process.

The Departments of Defence and Veterans' Affairs says it will 'carefully consider' the findings and will provide a response to the Coroner.

Jesse Bird (right) served in Afghanistan in 2009 before he was discharged and returned home in 2010

Jesse Bird (right) is pictured with his siblings, brother Brendan (left) and sister Kate (centre)

'Any Australian veteran who needs help and wishes to access mental health support is encouraged to reach out,' the department statement read.

'Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling provides 24-hour free and confidential counselling, group programs and suicide prevention training to former and currently serving ADF personnel and their family members.'

Connie Boglis was in a two year relationship with Mr Bird after the pair met online in 2014.

She previously blamed the department for her ex-boyfriend's decline in mental well-being before he took his own life.

'It breaks my heart that he felt so let down, that he had to make that decision,' Ms Boglis told Daily Mail Australia in 2017.

 'Jesse had enough. He fought as hard as he could.'

For confidential support call Lifeline: 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636.

 

Original Link: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8194815/Afghanistan-veteran-took-life-let-Coroner-finds.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490

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