It was while researching a university paper that Laverton’s Kylie Erben learned that, in recent times, more Australian soldiers die by their own hand than in combat.
Her research into post traumatic stress disorder, and her own family history, prompted her to volunteer with Legacy.
Her paternal Polish grandfather was the only member of his family to survive World War II.
“My grandpa lost all four brothers because they were shot by the German army,” Ms Erben said. “They were actually dragged out of a Polish pub and shot behind the pub in the alley way. He was the only survivor and went on to fight with Britain before coming to Australia with my grandmother. He would never talk about his experiences.”
Ms Erben, 29, said that as a Legatee, she hoped to raise awareness of PTSD and to provide hands-on practical support.
“A lot of our soldiers, they come back mentally strained and a lot of them commit suicide,” she said. “We’re actually losing more soldiers to suicide-related PTSD than we are losing in combat.
“My mother’s close friend was also a war veteran from Vietnam and has suffered some side effects from his deployment.
“I believe our brave service men and women are stronger than I could ever be, doing what they have had to do, and I feel a strong responsibility to help their families if they are experiencing tough times.”
Remembrance Day (November 11), she believes, should be about people remembering how horrific war is and how many lives are lost.
“The work that Legacy does is very important because there are a lot of people out there that are sad and suffering, not just from disorders like PTSD but from losing loved ones,” she said. “These are the people that have put their lives on the line for our safety and security.”
For more information on Legacy, call 86260500.
Lifeline: 13 11 14