Ex-servicemen will highlight concerns over support for war widows and the transition from war to civilian life through a new forum for WA veterans.

The 10-member veterans advisory council, announced by Veterans Minister Joe Francis, will have a formal role in State Government issues for the first time.

To be chaired by Vietnam veteran Max Ball, it includes representatives from World War II, Iraq, Afghanistan, the heads of various support and community groups, and the wife of a disabled veteran.

Mr Francis said the council echoed similar systems in the Eastern States and would give veterans a chance to have their say on issues, including mental health.

"Predominantly, veterans' affairs are a Federal issue but at a State level the Government plays a fairly big role in things that impact on veterans, such as health care and cost of living," he said.

"I think it's only fair that we owe them the minimum requirement of having a say and being heard."

As one of the youngest council members, Lt-Col Brendan Maxwell said he would use the council to push for better recognition of the role of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Afghanistan is Australia's longest campaign and I'd argue it's the most dislocated for its veterans … Australians were not really aware of our service," he said.

Many of his fellow former soldiers were struggling to adjust to life in WA after their service and he wanted job opportunities created for those who returned from recent conflicts.

"I'll be looking for a way the veteran community can engage with us in a way that is meaningful and will assist us in our transition into civilian life," Lt-Col Maxwell said.

"For me, I definitely needed help. Many ex-servicemen connected with me to help that transition."

Former Royal Australian Navy serviceman Phil Smith said he would bring the Government's attention to the importance of support for wives of former servicemen.

Many partners caring for injured veterans or those with health problems were unaware or confused about the help available. "If we fall off our perch, the ladies need to know where to get help so it's up to us to make them aware of it," he said.

The West Australian

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