Wife of traumatised army medic who tried to take his own life ‘more than 30 times’ leaves ABC’s Q&A panel stunned – as she slams lack of services for vets and reveals the desperate lengths needed to keep him alive

  • A veteran has tried to take his life ‘more than 30 times’
  • His wife has saved him on multiple occasions
  • Lifeline 13 11 14, Beyond Blue 1300 224 636

The devoted wife of a traumatised army medic has revealed the desperate lengths needed to keep her suicidal husband alive amid a lack of services for veterans.

Alison and Dave opened up on ABC’s Q&A program on Monday night about their harrowing experiences after Dave served for Australia in East Timor.

Dave said he was haunted by the things he saw during his service as a solider and medic, and has tried to take his own life ‘more than 30 times’.

Fighting back tears, Alison said after his last suicide attempt she tied herself to her husband while they waited nine days for a bed to become available in an inpatient care centre.

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‘Nine days I had to tie myself to my husband so he wouldn’t have any more attempts to end his life at night while we slept,’ she told the stunned panel. 

Dave said he has horrific nightmares ‘every night’.

‘I’m in full body pain constantly, even my eyelids hurt,’ he said.

When asked by host Stan Grant what it was like for her, Alison replied: ‘If I was just a wife it’d be good, but I am Dave’s career, counsellor, psychiatrist, psychologist, doctor, chemist – everything.

‘I cut him down when he’s hanging from the roof, I perform CPR when he’s overdosed, and I’ve done that many times.’

Alison said the pair had received help from the Veterans Centre of Australia, but since it recently closed ‘there’s nowhere for us to go’.

‘There is no impatient care in Australia for disabled suicide veterans anymore,’ she said.

Veterans Centre Australia closed its doors last month after nearly 12 years of operation, becoming insolvent after its major funder withdrew support.

The service handled up to 600 clients at a time across Australia, advocating for veterans and helping them and their families navigate healthcare, financial support, and employment services.

Alison offered panel member and Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Matt Keogh an invitation to be guest in the couple’s home so he can understand what they’re going through.

Couple Alison and Dave (pictured) spoke on Monday night's ABC Q&A program about their heartbreaking experiences after Dave served in the army in East Timor

Couple Alison and Dave (pictured) spoke on Monday night’s ABC Q&A program about their heartbreaking experiences after Dave served in the army in East Timor

‘[To] experience first hand the crisis resulting in your government’s neglect of Australian veterans and their families by closing the Veterans Centre Australia,’ she said. 

‘I don’t want you to send your secretary or your offsider, I’d like you to come to our home.’

Alison said the Veteran Centre had meant ‘everything’ to many veterans and had saved lives, including Dave’s.

‘To you he might be Joe Blow but he’s my husband who signed up and served this country and he’s everything to me,’ she said.

A stunned Mr Keogh said he was sorry for what the couple have endured, and thanked Dave for his service and Alison for ‘looking after him’.

‘It is really clear governments on both sides have dropped the ball in how we support our veteran community when they’re in need,’ he said.

Mr Keogh said he was happy to ‘get in touch’ with the couple after the program.

Stan Grant said there were ‘no words’ for what Alison and Dave had gone through.

If you or anyone you know needs help you can contact: Lifeline 13 11 14 and Beyond Blue 1300 224 636


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