Letter in response to Douglas McKenzie Article

By Prof Peter Warfe In   Issue Volume 18 No. 4 .

Sir, I would like to bring to your readers’ attention an inaccurate comment in a recent JMVH article on DVA accepted disability claims for posttraumatic stress disorder, concerning the second Australian Contingent to Rwanda, ASC2.

McKenzie’s unreferenced article suggested that ‘the 2nd Australian Contingent to Rwanda, 20% of whom observed the Kibeho massacre, now has over 80% of the Contingent personnel on mental disability pensions, mainly for PTSD’1.

I am responding to his assertion in my capacity as the Commander of ASC2 Rwanda and as the Director of the Centre of Military and Veterans’ Health.   The facts in this matter simply do not support his statement and I am concerned they denigrate the Contingent’s superlative service under very trying and dangerous conditions.

Firstly, during 1995 Rwanda was largely a lawless state which presented a number of very challenging operational, occupational and environmental health hazards.  Secondly, more than a third of the Contingent served at Kibeho, during the particularly savage month of April 1995, culminating in the Kibeho massacre.   Finally, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs accepted disability claims partially or wholly attributed to Rwanda for both Contingents and which include 174 cases of PTSD2.

Based on the statistics provided, in the worst case 50% of the 350-personnel who served in the second contingent could have accepted disability claims for PTSD.  However, assuming a normal distribution of PTSD through both contingents, of around 700 personnel, I estimate around 25% of the ASC2 Rwanda could have accepted disability claims for PTSD.

I wish to reassure your readers both DVA and CMVH are providing ongoing thorough research, first rate treatment and compassionate support for these valued veterans.

Peter Warfe CSC, Professor and Director CMVH

Acknowledgements

References

1.      McKenzie D. An Holistic view of posttraumatic stress disorder.  JMVH April 2010: 2(2): 24-26. 2.      Correspondence Principal Medical Advisor DVA/Director CMVH dated 12 July 2010.

Author Information