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Nation urged to honour Diggers in Afghanistan
The West Australian

Australia would have "failed as a nation" if it did not do more to help Afghanistan war veterans suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, according to former WA governor Ken Michael.

Dr Michael, the chairman of the Australian Defence Force Assistance Trust, has urged government, the business community and the general public to support Diggers returning home.

The trust's work has received a boost with three of Australia's most distinguished military officers coming on board as patrons.

The former Defence Force chiefs - Admiral Chris Barrie, Gen. Peter Cosgrove and Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston will represent the navy, army and air force respectively.

Trust patron Governor-General Quentin Bryce said she hoped the men would champion the work the trust performed within the defence community.

The trust was set up to provide financial aid to current and retired members of the army, navy and air force, and their families, who as a result of their service were permanently incapacitated or disabled. Over the past year it has directly assisted more than 40 ADF members, veterans and their families.

Dr Michael said this number was expected to rise significantly over the next decade as Afghanistan veterans rebuilt their life.

"Post-traumatic stress disorder is emerging as a major issue for the men and women returning from Afghanistan and the impact on them and their families can be severe," he said.

Dr Michael said the trust relied on the interest payments earned from a $14 million government loan but more money was needed.

"We will require further government money, the help of the corporate sector and support of the public generally if we are to look after those who have put their lives on the line for our freedom and the families who have also paid a heavy price," he said. "Unless we do that, we will have failed as a nation."

The Department of Veterans Affairs said it spent $166 million a year on mental health services.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is emerging as a major issue. "Ken Michael