As the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide begins, a local advocate expects investigations will highlight discrepancies between the three veterans affairs' acts.
The Royal Commission held a ceremonial hearing in Brisbane on Friday and today begins its first two-week hearing block.
It has so far received more than 600 written submissions after being established in July.
Hume Veterans Information Centre chair Wayne Taylor said the experience for veterans upon discharge was central to the issue.
"I can't crystal ball what will and won't come out in the Royal Commission, but I think there will be a light shone on that transition from service into into civilian life," he said.
"Whilst people are still serving, they're connected to their mates, they're connected to the medical (services), they're connected to all those support structures.
"When they transition out, those links are broken. If there's underlying trauma there, they'll often then come out.
"We're now seeing the after-effects, of Timor some 20 years ago, and of Iraq and Afghanistan - that and COVID is significantly impacted the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) and their ability to process claims.
"It's a constant transformation for DVA and I think they're going through another transformation now, in order to address the fact that there is a big delay in processing claims.
"The Royal Commission will be tricky, because there's so many aspects."
Another layer to the issue is the gaps in mental health services.
Contact with Hume Veterans increases when there are deployments and reporting in the media, and Mr Taylor said it was crucial veterans and families reach out if the Royal Commission raised issues.
However, when vets sought help, Mr Taylor said they had trouble securing psychiatry appointments.
"We have a lot of veterans in this area that cannot get in to see psychiatrist, so they'd have to seek psychiatrists in Sydney, Melbourne or Wagga and even then it's difficult," he said.
A major new service will be provided in the preventative space when the centre joins with RSL Victoria to establish a $5 million veteran well-being centre in Wodonga, which is progressing well.
"We will be providing a trauma-informed resilience program," Mr Taylor said.
"I can't speak for the RSL, but I imagine that we will connect in with other organisations, rehab consultants, psychiatrists where we can ... to ensure that the transition at a local level can be the best it possibly can."
There are three Acts informing veteran compensation, including The Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004.
Mr Taylor has written to the Minister for Veterans' Affairs with examples of local vets and their families missing out on support due to legislation misalignment.
"An aspect I hope they'll pick up on is the discrepancies between the Acts, because that will often cause mental trauma to a veteran," he said.
"I'm not suggesting that that will cause suicide, but it causes trauma.
"Everyone gets the white card; it provides a baseline for seeking mental health treatment.
"Every claim that we do, we automatically check to see if the white card has been lodged.
"Everyone will get that mental health, but not every person will get the cancer and tuberculosis (claim to compensation).
"We have an wonderful rapport with DVA here; we can get on the phone and contact individual delegates.
"(But) what the DVA do is a result of what policy is generated from government.
"So, when things are raised like a Royal Commission, the government will respond and then put in those measures appropriately.
In 2019, the Productivity Commission recommended reform to the DVA, and that the acts be "harmonised".
The federal government has spent $386 million addressing 35 of the Commission's 69 recommendations, but has not progressed the recommendation regarding the Acts.
"The remaining recommendations primarily relate to structural and legislative reform, including
harmonisation of entitlements across the existing three veteran Acts," a May update read.
"Through engagement ... it is clear that there are still considerable differences on the best approach to this
"The Government will continue to consult with the veteran community to reduce the complexity of
the legislative framework.
"The Government will finalise any outstanding matters from the Productivity Commission report
at the completion of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide."
At the Hume Veterans Information Centre off Melbourne Road, volunteers are preparing for a busy 2022.
"The year before COVID, we were seeing 32 clients a week, and we're seeing about 25 clients a week now," Mr Taylor said.
"With regards to local veterans, I can only assume they may have got sick of the centre closing down.
"But I think come the new year, we will see an increase.
"With Christmas coming up, people will be lonely - reach out.
"Go onto our website; we have a 24 hour welfare officer that can potentially assist in that situation.
If you or someone you know needs help, contact
- Open Arms: 1800 142 072
- 1300 MILVET (1300 645 838)
- Lifeline: 13 11 14