Minister for Veterans' Affairs Darren Chester.
Minister for Veterans' Affairs Darren Chester.

’One day I’m going to walk in here and pull the trigger’

"ONE day I'm going to walk in here and pull the trigger," said a Townsville veteran at an antimalarial drugs community consultation.

Veterans spoke of their mental and physical anguish at a forum held by the Department of Veterans' Affairs on Wednesday night.

They told the department how they believe the drugs Mefloquine and Tafenoquine had adversely impacted them and their families.

The veteran described how he was at a breaking point and considered suicide to bring attention to the issue because he felt Townsville had been forgotten by public servants in Canberra.

Another veteran told the room how he had developed anger management problems after taking the drugs.

"It feels like at times my head will explode and my family relationships have suffered," he said.

Feedback given to DVA representatives included providing assistance to partners of former servicemen and women and educating health professionals on adequately treating people who had taken the drugs.

Almost 20 years ago more than 3000 troops were given the antimalarial drugs while on deployments in East Timor and Bougainville in Papua New Guinea.

A Department of Veterans' Affairs spokesman said the consultations were to help the department understand the needs of veterans and direct them to treatment.

"The Government has listened to ADF members, veterans and their families, and has put into place a number of actions to address their concerns," the spokesman said.

"This includes delivering a comprehensive online information resource along with establishing a dedicated support team to assist with claims related to these medications.

"DVA spends around $200 million annually on supporting the mental health needs of veterans and their families, and spends more than $11 billion annually to deliver the essential services to veterans and their families that they rely on.

"DVA has also expanded its free mental health treatment program.''

Anyone with concerns should call DVA's designated phone line - 1800 MEFLOQUINE (1800 633 567) - including for information on upcoming consultation forums. Open Arms - Veterans and Families Counselling provides a free, confidential counselling service to veterans and families Australia-wide. It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 1800 011 046.