Bob Lusby AM understands the struggles of veterans returning home
Colonel Professor Robert “Bob” Lusby AM has witnessed what happens when people are uprooted from ordinary life and find themselves in a war zone.
The retired Australian Army surgeon served in Rwanda, East Timor and Bougainville and says many servicemen and women “don’t feel normal” when they return home.
“They’ve seen things and they’ve done things which are extraordinary and often they keep it in; it’s not easy to talk about,” Professor Lusby said.
As chair of the working party for the National Centre for Veterans’ Healthcare, Professor Lusby says transitioning to civilian life should be made a little easier by the establishment of a “one-stop-shop” model at Concord Hospital.
Professor Lusby, who was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 2015 for his outstanding services to medicine, believes the Centre is both overdue and needed now more than ever.
“Part of our contract to our servicemen and women is we look after them, both when they go away and when they come back,” he said.
There are about 60,000 Australian service men and women who have served over the last two decades, including as peacekeepers, in Rwanda, East Timor, Afghanistan, Iraq and the Solomon Islands.
“Sooner or later, some of these people will need help,” he said.
The Centre will offer coordinated ongoing treatment, and staff will be specially trained to deal with the unique challenges veterans may present with.
“The fact that some of them might be a bit shell shocked, they might be aggressive at times, swear a bit or whatever, [staff] should just ignore that and understand these are our patients.
“We have to understand where they are coming from.”
“It’s terribly important, I think, to care for people who have served this country - they’ve done something for us and we have a duty of care long term to look after them,” he said.