Compass - Walking Wounded

Walking Wounded is a moving story about ageing WWII veterans who fought as very young men, only to spend the rest of their lives suffering the consequent trauma in silence.

Mental health problems experienced by Australians who served in Vietnam are well documented, but the fallout for World War II veterans, while just as severe, has largely been ignored. Max Dimmack served in the army in New Guinea and Borneo where he witnessed horrific events. At the end of the war, he returned to civilian life: had a family and buried himself in work, avoiding any talk of the war. Everything came to an abrupt halt when he suffered a nervous breakdown, was forced into early retirement, and family life took a drastic turn for the worse. Max and his family share their perspectives of the bad years with great candour.

Cliff Hopping spent seven years in the navy in the Pacific where he survived Kamikaze attacks aboard HMAS Australia. Unlike Max, he was immediately plagued by recurring nightmares, panic attacks and social withdrawal that did not abate with time. Cliff's family bore the brunt. After suffering for decades, Max and Cliff were referred to the first treatment program in Australia for older veterans suffering post traumatic stress disorder. Psychiatrist Richard Bonwick acknowledges that the program is not a cure-all, but at least it helps them cope with their symptoms.

Year of Production: 2006
Production note: © ABC TV
Duration: 31 mins

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