When David died, his best mate wrote him a heartbreaking note. Now the tragic aftermath of the saga has finally been revealed.
When David died, his best mate wrote him a heartbreaking note. Now the tragic aftermath of the saga has finally been revealed.

Tragic twist after best mate’s note

The grieving mother of an ADF veteran who took his own life is "shattered" after one of her son's best mates died by suspected suicide, too.

Julie-Ann Finney's son David served his country with the Royal Australian Navy for 20 years before leaving with post-traumatic stress disorder.

He reached out to the Department of Veterans' Affairs, saying he needed help. But his pleas fell on deaf ears and he took his own life.

Ms Finney, who is advocating for a royal commission into Australian veteran suicides, shared a touching note that one of David's closest Navy mates wrote to him after his passing.

"I know for certain that we never lose the people we love, even to death," the note read.

"Your love leaves an indelible imprint in our memories ... I love you old mate."

She told news.com.au the Navy veteran who wrote the note to her son took his own life.

"That mate has joined my son and I'm shattered," she said.

"I'm devastated. They loved each other."

The veteran's name has not yet been released, but news.com.au has seen footage of the two veterans laughing and playing together.

It comes after a spate of suicides linked to the Australian Defence Force. Throughout November, nine serving and veteran Defence Force members took their own lives.

Eight men and one woman aged from 20-50 - heroes who served their country and made the greatest sacrifice and whose families won't have them around for Christmas.

Their names are added to a suicide death toll among veterans that is 32.5 per cent higher this year than it was last year, according to News Corp's Let's Talk campaign.

Among them is 32-year-old Private Shane Holt, who leaves behind his partner and three-year-old son, and Leading Aircraftsman Robert Phillips, 33, who has two young children.

David Finney and his son.
David Finney and his son.

Over 600 veterans have now committed suicide since we first deployed our forces to Afghanistan in 2001.

Ever since she lost David, Ms Finney has been pushing for a Royal Commission into veteran suicide, and this week the fate of that proposal lies in the hands of the federal government.

Breaking down in tears on live television today she spoke of how the Prime Minister tried to "placate" her and other mothers after the deaths of their sons by giving them medals.

"This Government offered me and other mothers a Mother's Medal. I don't know what that would look like, but maybe a little rope or a bottle of pills that I can wear saying - my child committed suicide," she said.

"They come up with things to placate us, and that's all they do. They placate us. I'm not going to be placated. My son is dead.

"They want to give me the opportunity to tell me story. My son is dead. I have to live with it. That is my story. That is not enough. We need an investigation."

A picture of David Finney held by his mother Julie-Ann. Picture: Mike Burton
A picture of David Finney held by his mother Julie-Ann. Picture: Mike Burton

In an interview with news.com.au, she said the two years since her son's death have been driven by a desire to ensure no other veterans suffer what her son did.

"Two years ago I was nothing but a mother. I'm still really grateful that I got to be his mother. But now I'm going to fight for him. I'm not silly enough to think I can bring him back, but I can help other veterans suffering," she said.

Her change.org petition has been signed by more than 380,000 people.

"I'm not going to stop until I get a Royal Commission," she said.

In February this year, the Prime Minister announced he would establish a National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention, but as Ms Finney points out, the position would not provide independent oversight and would not act until a veteran had taken their own life.


Originally published as Tragic twist after best mate's note


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