Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie fought back tears as she detailed “10 years of hell” after her medical discharge from the army and legal battles with the Department of Veterans Affairs over compensation.
Ms Lambie is appearing before the Hobart hearings of the Royal Commission on Veteran Defense and Suicide, after years of campaigning for an inquiry into the country’s armed forces.
She served in the Australian Army for 11 years and was medically discharged in 2000 after suffering a back injury during training.
Ms Lambie has previously spoken publicly about her suicide attempt in 2009, her heavy use of painkillers and her major depression.
“I want to thank my family for the 10 years of hell they had to go through,” she told the inquest during an opening statement on Friday.
“It was very difficult for (my parents), to see their daughter…be reduced to an empty human being.
“I want to thank my two sons who have been through a lot and watched their mother deteriorate badly.
“To my youngest son…I know you paid a very high price. You had to take care of me. I know you always pay the price.
Ms Lambie detailed years of legal battles with the Department of Veterans Affairs in her claim for compensation for physical and mental health issues.
She said the department monitored her at her home in Devonport in the early 2000s and a camera was “placed over her back fence”.
His testimony continues Friday.
Ms Lambie called for a Royal Commission on Defense Force Culture during her first Senate address in 2014.
“I never thought about faith or anything, but I made a deal with God. If he could just give me a second chance at life, I would fight like hell for veterans because I could understand what was going on,’ she told the inquest.
“They weren’t getting a fair deal.”
The inquiry has received more than 1,900 submissions since it was called by former Prime Minister Scott Morrison in April 2021.
It will deliver an interim report on Thursday with final recommendations expected by June 2024.
There are over 17,500 veterans living in Tasmania, which would be the highest number per capita of any state or territory.
The cohort is disproportionately affected by homelessness compared to the general population, the survey said.
Lifeline 13 11 14
Open arms 1800 011 046