Life’s tough, pretending it can be otherwise helps no one

Meandering through my Sydney Sunday newspaper- The Sunday Telegraph – (poor fare, why do they bother) two things struck me. One concerned the sad suicide death of rugby league player and coach Paul Green. A terrible thing for his family to deal with. Enough said.

However, according to the writer of an article on the tragedy, a Phil Rothfield, “Green’s death has led to concerns around the welfare of former players and coaches across rugby league.” Where does this kind of thing come from these days?

Life is tough, there’s no doubt about that. But tougher still for rugby league players? A friend of Green is reported as saying that the NRL is like a machine that can just spit you out. Is it? I once worked for the State Bank Victoria. When it collapsed and was taken over by the CBA, the CBA spat a lot of us with dependent families out onto the street. Nothing special about it. Lots of people get spat out of their employment.

It’s the victim card again, of course, being played. It’s just plain silly in this case, as it is in most cases. I understand that professional rugby league players are well paid. Lucky them; not poor them. Though to be fair there is no hiding place in sport. Whereas plenty of bankers are incompetent without sticking out. If you’re a sportsman and your standards drop, you stick out. But that’s the well-remunerated game they’re in and the pitfalls are not kept secret.

A second thing that struck me was criticism of some reported comments by Sir Peter Cosgrove following the release of the interim report of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide. Apparently, according to the newspaper, he suggested that new recruits to the ADF needed to be more tightly screened to ensure they are not predisposed to mental health problems.

No doubt he will feel pressured to roll back this reported comment; again, in these days of extolling victimhood, the truth, even the bleeding obvious, has to be handled with kid gloves, lest it enrage the mob. But surely operating in the ADF is one of the most stressful occupations; particularly in combat roles. Mental strength is a key requirement, isn’t it?

Now I know other factors besides the stress of combat might be at play in the ADF, which bear on the considerations of the Royal Commission. Nonetheless, it is still true that those bearing arms need to be mentally as well as physically tough. And part of the recruitment process must be to weed out those who fall short. No shame in it. Just a fact of life. If the process isn’t rigorous enough then some ADF personnel will suffer unnecessarily. Can’t that be said?

51 thoughts on “Life’s tough, pretending it can be otherwise helps no one”

  1. I’ll probably get banned or the Twitter mob after me for saying it out loud, however when I joined the army in the 70’s, homosexuals were not allowed in (truth is, many got in and nobody cared). The reason they weren’t officially allowed in wasn’t because of raging homophobia, but simply because they were considered too mentally fragile for service. Looking around today, I think the army has a point. And in those days, the medical profession agreed.

    1st, BTW 🙂


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  2. Also, I don’t care about Twitter mobs, I don’t do social media, that’s a mental health problem I’ll never have to worry about: Twitter a-holes and Facebook warriors, go ya hardest ?


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  3. he suggested that new recruits to the ADF needed to be more tightly screened to ensure they are not predisposed to mental health problems.

    The Army has battalions (hyperbowl) of professional psychologists. Either they aren’t doing their job, or they are and letting in mentally fragile individuals on purpose.
    Either way we are screwed.


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  4. I’m not terribly familiar with rugby, but I believe it can get pretty physical at times. Perhaps Green took too many hits to the noggin? It happens to football players and wrestlers sometimes. (Chris Benoit, for one.)


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  5. So much of success is in the mind. That goes for sport and for life in general. We don’t train kids in resilience and mental toughness any more. Yet it is so important to succeed and equally important to survive failure – something everyone will have.

    I don’t know anything about Paul Green and his situation, so I will not comment about that sad story.
    However I was thinking about this in relation to Colin Kaepernick the quarterback. He was a pretty good top line sportsman until he lost it. It was his mind that let him down, not his body. He let himself be seduced by woke black armband stuff and became angry and resentful, and threw it all away like a baby throwing a tantrum.

    So many these days are spoilt brats. When did you last hear that term? It’s no longer spoken of. Instead the silliest and most destructive personal foibles are encouraged and tolerated, so long as they stay in the lefty herd. They are coddled and indulged. No wonder that when adversity comes along such people do not have the tools to handle it. They were never taught them.


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  6. I treated many with PTSD over my professional career . In fact when I first started was not in the DSM . However one of the factor s that appeared is that those who had had trauma in early life were more prone to PTSD . So Cosgrove right in query selection methods . The Americans give applicants the Millon that inducates the mads , bads and sads Out of interest pilot must be narcisisstic, aggressive , sadistic on the Millon according to Airforce psychologist I trained with in Personality Disorders in the States.


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  7. Perhaps Green took too many hits to the noggin?

    He played Rugby League which is a very hard contact sport.
    In his penultimate season Green had multiple plates inserted into his face so I assume CTE was present and a factor in his suicide.


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  8. If you’re a sportsman and your standards drop, you stick out. But that’s the well-remunerated game they’re in and the pitfalls are not kept secret.

    These dayz there appears to be more mediocre “players” on BIG money than good ones so talent is not a precursor to BIG money in the game of “thugby ….
    On Paul Green and his demise .. if it involved money issues then there is no one to blame but himself .. there are NO 1st grade coaches on less the $500 000 a year in Oz ‘thugby” ..
    98% of folk are on less money and don’t top themselves .. FFS!


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  9. But surely operating in the ADF is one of the most stressful occupations; particularly in combat roles. Mental strength is a key requirement, isn’t it?

    It used to be, now you will find diversity, hatred of country and resentment are more desirble assets


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  10. The Pommy merchant navy had that problem in WW2 with young people not being able to handle it hence Outward Bound and the blue peter badge to those who graduated. Their motto–To serve, to strive, and not to yield– from the poem Ulysses. Most of the modern young should attend an Outward Bound course but sadly for us all, they don’t.
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  11. It used to be, now you will find diversity, hatred of country and resentment are more desirble assets

    I’ve long argued that the A.D.F. should be composed of those over 60 – men, with the best years of their lives behind them, peevish, cranky and irritable – given automatic weapons and the license to kill some arzehole who richly deserves it….


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  12. Nonetheless, it is still true that those bearing arms need to be mentally as well as physically tough

    Assume most new recruits are not either these days?


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  13. Being fit, healthy, having good friends, being financially secure, having a loving wife and children, parents that love you, siblings that love you just doesn’t seem to be enough. If you are willing to do this to all those that love you, you plainly don’t love them.


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  14. It used to be, now you will find diversity, hatred of country and resentment are more desirble assets

    I was amazed at the size of the Veterans Affairs backlog. Nearly half the size of the ADF. WTF is going on?


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  15. minsays:
    August 22, 2022 at 7:36 am
    I treated many with PTSD over my professional career . In fact when I first started was not in the DSM . However one of the factor s that appeared is that those who had had trauma in early life were more prone to PTSD .

    A friend who was in the Army medical corps said much the same. A unit could all experience much the same thing and some would cope fine while others would really struggle. People don’t go into a traumatic situation as a blank canvas.
    Just shows Sir Peter Cosgrove’s comments make sense. Which is as much as to say that they’ll be howled down in favour of wokeness.


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  16. I was amazed at the size of the Veterans Affairs backlog. Nearly half the size of the ADF. WTF is going on?

    An increase in the number of claims by 48% EACH YEAR.


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  17. Regarding the ADF, you only need to look at their recruitment ads. It’s all about advancing your career and achieving your best self.
    When a war breaks out and they are handed a gun and told to shoot people, I suspect they will all claim “I never signed up for this”.


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  18. When a war breaks out and they are handed a gun and told to shoot people, I suspect they will all claim “I never signed up for this”.

    A problem the British Army encountered in the buildup to the Falklands war!


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  19. And part of the recruitment process must be to weed out those who fall short.

    Not any more. The current basic training produces civilians trained in the use of weapons, not soldiers. This is a direct consequence of training females alongside males. Veteran suicide is the result. Of course the Royal Commission didn’t even consider this most obvious of factors.


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  20. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha says:
    August 22, 2022 at 9:07 am

    I’ve long argued that the A.D.F. should be composed of those over 60 – men, with the best years of their lives behind them, peevish, cranky and irritable – given automatic weapons and the license to kill some arzehole who richly deserves it….

    That wouldn’t work Zulu, this army of old codgers couldn’t march anywhere without a toilet break every five minutes.


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  21. That wouldn’t work Zulu, this army of old codgers couldn’t march anywhere without a toilet break every five minutes.

    March? March? Why do you think the helicopter and the amoured personnel carrier were invented?


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  22. Old Bloke

    That wouldn’t work Zulu, this army of old codgers couldn’t march anywhere without a toilet break every five minutes.

    Oi, I can wait up to 20 minutes.

    Anyway, what’s wrong with pissing on the enemy?


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  23. A problem the British Army encountered in the buildup to the Falklands war!

    IIRC that ‘buildup’ from blissful peace to “holy mackerel, we’ve been attacked! We’re at war, jihad upon Argentina!” was about 27 hours.


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  24. August 22, 2022 at 10:05 am
    It used to be, now you will find diversity, hatred of country and resentment are more desirble assets
    I was amazed at the size of the Veterans Affairs backlog. Nearly half the size of the ADF. WTF is going on?

    Churn rate is a bitch. And vets go all the way back for as long as people live; veterans from Vietnam for example still make plenty of claims.


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  25. Regarding the ADF, you only need to look at their recruitment ads. It’s all about advancing your career and achieving your best self.
    When a war breaks out and they are handed a gun and told to shoot people, I suspect they will all claim “I never signed up for this”.

    I actually lived this. People happy to take the Queens coin for all those years suddenly had second thoughts when confronted with the prospect of fronting up in a two way firing range.


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  26. It used to be, now you will find diversity, hatred of country and resentment are more desirble assets
    I’ve long argued that the A.D.F. should be composed of those over 60 – men, with the best years of their lives behind them, peevish, cranky and irritable – given automatic weapons and the license to kill some arzehole who richly deserves it….

    Oi! Best years still ahead of me yet >:(


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  27. An incident in the AFL on the weekend leaves me wondering about the mental fragility of the current generation of players. Brisbane captain Daniel Zorko ‘sledged’ Melbourne’s Harrison Petty and left him in tears. Reportedly, Zorko told him words to the effect that “I hope your mother dies”. No doubt it was said more vulgarly than that but even so … left in tears? How soft are young men these days?


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  28. A second thing that struck me was criticism of some reported comments by Sir Peter Cosgrove following the release of the interim report of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide. Apparently, according to the newspaper, he suggested that new recruits to the ADF needed to be more tightly screened to ensure they are not predisposed to mental health problems.

    The woke critics of Cosgrove’s suggestion are probably the same people who wonder why some veterans commit suicide and why there isn’t something in place in the ADF to try and prevent it.


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  29. “Brisbane captain Daniel Zorko ‘sledged’ Melbourne’s Harrison Petty and left him in tears.”

    This is a joke, right?
    A professional rugby player.
    FFS, if he crossed a line, you should have snotted him on the spot. And if he didn’t cross a line, you should have laughed at him and shot back something even worse.


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  30. Kneel says:
    August 22, 2022 at 3:32 pm
    This is a joke, right?
    A professional rugby player.

    T’was an AFL player, not rugger or thugbe. We in the north could never understand those players with far too tight shorts. Maybe mummy came and gave Petty a good KITA.


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  31. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha says:
    August 22, 2022 at 12:44 pm
    That wouldn’t work Zulu, this army of old codgers couldn’t march anywhere without a toilet break every five minutes.
    March? March? Why do you think the helicopter and the amoured personnel carrier were invented?

    High value targets lite up all nice and bright in unmissable IR signatures?


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  32. minsays:
    August 22, 2022 at 7:36 am
    I treated many with PTSD over my professional career . In fact when I first started was not in the DSM . However one of the factor s that appeared is that those who had had trauma in early life were more prone to PTSD . So Cosgrove right in query selection methods . The Americans give applicants the Millon that inducates the mads , bads and sads Out of interest pilot must be narcisisstic, aggressive , sadistic on the Millon according to Airforce psychologist I trained with in Personality Disorders in the States.

    I was discussing this issue with a neuropsych who put forward the idea that early life trauma changes the expression of specific receptors related to inhibition which paves the way for alcoholism(min: GABA a receptors). The animal studies certainly back up the loss of those receptors but how that happens remains mysterious. Moreover it isn’t just PTSD, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, clearly have significant linkages to early life trauma. There are notable linkages with loss of inhibition in anxiety, depression, ASD, and schizophrenia.

    A friend of mine was working with veterans and PTSD. They were looking at MDMA but unfortunately a lot of the veterans were smoking pot which clouds the prospects of a clinical trial. I don’t understand why they would be smoking pot because THC increases anxiety. CBD could benefit because it can increase inhibitory currents.

    USA studies claimed a linkage with with undiagnosed\subclinical mood issues and PTSD in veterans.

    How many of these veterans were in combat? There are doctors and nurses working in ER that see human carnage on a frequent basis. I asked a doctor which ones were most susceptible to emotional turmoil and his response was the doctors who treat children involved in car accidents. How do their rates of psych distress compare with these veterans? That would be an interesting study because I think the veteran PTSD thing is just politically fashionable.


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  33. March? March? Why do you think the helicopter and the amoured personnel carrier were invented?

    Exactly Zulu.
    A bad ride is better than a good walk by GP Express any day.


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  34. The current basic training produces civilians trained in the use of weapons, not soldiers.
    When I was still in the ARA all those years ago, there was talk of sending soldiers to the abattoirs to see ‘a bit of blood and guts.’
    Nothing ever came of it though.

    A mate, ex RAAFie, 9 years and safety equipo and now ex NSW Ambo, helicopter and ambulance crew with 30 and a bit years, retired, told me that he use to get Army medics doing work experience and and on the job training as part of their medic course. My mate said that he got Army medics to do a lot of the hands on stuff while he supervised them. He also said that he did not have one issue with any of them.
    With other ambo crews, mostly the female crews, it was ‘stay out of my way, look and don’t touch.’


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  35. John H. says:
    August 22, 2022 at 7:40 pm
    minsays:
    August 22, 2022 at 7:36 am
    I treated many with PTSD over my professional career . In fact when I first started was not in the DSM . However one of the factor s that appeared is that those who had had trauma in early life were more prone to PTSD . So Cosgrove right in query selection methods . The Americans give applicants the Millon that inducates the mads , bads and sads Out of interest pilot must be narcisisstic, aggressive , sadistic on the Millon according to Airforce psychologist I trained with in Personality Disorders in the States.
    I was discussing this issue with a neuropsych who put forward the idea that early life trauma changes the expression of specific receptors related to inhibition which paves the way for alcoholism(min: GABA a receptors). The animal studies certainly back up the loss of those receptors but how that happens remains mysterious. Moreover it isn’t just PTSD, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, clearly have significant linkages to early life trauma. There are notable linkages with loss of inhibition in anxiety, depression, ASD, and schizophrenia.

    A friend of mine was working with veterans and PTSD. They were looking at MDMA but unfortunately a lot of the veterans were smoking pot which clouds the prospects of a clinical trial. I don’t understand why they would be smoking pot because THC increases anxiety. CBD could benefit because it can increase inhibitory currents.

    USA studies claimed a linkage with with undiagnosed\subclinical mood issues and PTSD in veterans.

    How many of these veterans were in combat? There are doctors and nurses working in ER that see human carnage on a frequent basis. I asked a doctor which ones were most susceptible to emotional turmoil and his response was the doctors who treat children involved in car accidents. How do their rates of psych distress compare with these veterans? That would be an interesting study because I think the veteran PTSD thing is just politically fashionable.

    You can’t see the difference between the mindset and task of the nobility of saving a life versus the evil that is taking a life? Srsly? It’s not about dealing with messed up bodies, blood and gore (I agree that can mess people up, BTW), but there a world of difference between working to save life and the repulsive evils and reality of setting to deliberately taking a life.


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  36. told me that he use to get Army medics doing work experience and and on the job training as part of their medic course.

    Special Air Service Regiment used to send their medics down to casualty at Royal Perth Hospital – one mouthy drunk threw a punch at the orderly because his mate wasn’t being seen to, quickly enough…..guess who finished up on his arze….


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  37. HTsays:
    August 22, 2022 at 9:45 pm
    John H. says:
    August 22, 2022 at 7:40 pm
    minsays:
    August 22, 2022 at 7:36 am
    I treated many with PTSD over my professional career . In fact when I first started was not in the DSM . However one of the factor s that appeared is that those who had had trauma in early life were more prone to PTSD . So Cosgrove right in query selection methods . The Americans give applicants the Millon that inducates the mads , bads and sads Out of interest pilot must be narcisisstic, aggressive , sadistic on the Millon according to Airforce psychologist I trained with in Personality Disorders in the States.
    I was discussing this issue with a neuropsych who put forward the idea that early life trauma changes the expression of specific receptors related to inhibition which paves the way for alcoholism(min: GABA a receptors). The animal studies certainly back up the loss of those receptors but how that happens remains mysterious. Moreover it isn’t just PTSD, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, clearly have significant linkages to early life trauma. There are notable linkages with loss of inhibition in anxiety, depression, ASD, and schizophrenia.

    A friend of mine was working with veterans and PTSD. They were looking at MDMA but unfortunately a lot of the veterans were smoking pot which clouds the prospects of a clinical trial. I don’t understand why they would be smoking pot because THC increases anxiety. CBD could benefit because it can increase inhibitory currents.

    USA studies claimed a linkage with with undiagnosed\subclinical mood issues and PTSD in veterans.

    How many of these veterans were in combat? There are doctors and nurses working in ER that see human carnage on a frequent basis. I asked a doctor which ones were most susceptible to emotional turmoil and his response was the doctors who treat children involved in car accidents. How do their rates of psych distress compare with these veterans? That would be an interesting study because I think the veteran PTSD thing is just politically fashionable.

    You can’t see the difference between the mindset and task of the nobility of saving a life versus the evil that is taking a life? Srsly? It’s not about dealing with messed up bodies, blood and gore (I agree that can mess people up, BTW), but there a world of difference between working to save life and the repulsive evils and reality of setting to deliberately taking a life.

    You completely missed the point. I want a comparative study done to see what the rates of PTSD are between the two groups. I asked the question: how many have seen combat? You missed that too and it goes directly to your comment. We hear all this stuff about PTSD being thrown around without depth analysis. You also missed the point concerning the pre-morbidity leading to PTSD. Many kill, few become mentally ill. There is so much to unpack here.

    Incidentally it sounds easy to weed out the psychologically suspect but a psych can only do that in the most obvious of cases. For the most part forget that wish. There would need to be an extended interaction with the psych, a comprehensive personal history, knowing the family history of mental health, subjecting the person to some tests that might stress them. We can’t even predict suicide with any real success. The only way it would be possible to weed out the suspect is to put them through basic training and then have ongoing psych and staff assessments of the individual.


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  38. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha says:
    August 22, 2022 at 9:07 am
    It used to be, now you will find diversity, hatred of country and resentment are more desirble assets
    I’ve long argued that the A.D.F. should be composed of those over 60 – men, with the best years of their lives behind them, peevish, cranky and irritable – given automatic weapons and the license to kill some arzehole who richly deserves it….

    Funnily enough, I am currently reading Old Man’s War by John Scalzi. It’s an SF where the military is composed of those who reach 75. The best bit is how they solve the reflex, marching and incontinance problems.


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  39. Funnily enough, I am currently reading Old Man’s War by John Scalzi. It’s an SF where the military is composed of those who reach 75. The best bit is how they solve the reflex, marching and incontinance problems.

    Entropy, I don’t think I want to know… 😉


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  40. meanwhile — we prosecute the ones who have developed methods to deal with the stress (goofing off in a bar afterwards with a bit of grog and bad taste jokes).


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