Petition created to have PTSD awareness posters put back up

Walking Wounded poster featuring Jamie Cassidy. INSET: Jamie and Tracy Cassidy.
Walking Wounded poster featuring Jamie Cassidy. INSET: Jamie and Tracy Cassidy. Contributed

11.15am: AN ONLINE petition has been created to put to Stockland to have a PTSD awareness poster put back up for the benefit of the whole community.

Kelly has created the petition: Petition Rocky Stockland to Return the Walking Wounded Sign

The story about the poster, which featured a Rockhampton man who battled with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after serving 17 years in the Australian Army, has seen a mixed reaction online today.

Jamie Cassidy lost his battle with PTSD and tragically took his own life in July. He is one of 239 returned Australian soldiers who have taken their own lives since 1999.

His widow, Tracey, who was contacted by PTSD and veteran health advocate group Walking Wounded about having her husband featured in the poster, says the posters were there to help.

Today's story was about Stockland Rockhampton removing the posters after complaints from the community, including veterans who were 'adversely affected' by the awareness posters.

CQUniversity Vice Chancellor Scott Bowman has tweeted his support for the posters this morning.

Others have posted comments on Facebook:

Terri Britten - I'm concerned that out of the tens of thousands of people who live in this region, 2 (yes there were only 2) people make complaints about it and it gets removed, without any discussion or notice to Walking Wounded. So that they may have been able to give the family and friends of Jamie a heads up and explanation. Rather than us just having to go in there one afternoon and find them removed. It's disrespectful and distressing for his family. These men's families have put their feelings and grief aside for the greater good, so that fellow sufferers can get access to more help etc. The only way to raise awareness is to make the public realise what is going on in their own backyard.
Yes it's confronting, yes it hurts. It hurts his army mates that are battling PTSD themselves, to see him up there. But they too think of the greater good. So many positives have already started to come from this campaign, & it's very disheartening to see this happen, especially in his home town. It shouldn't be about 1 or 2 people, that seems a little selfish to me.

Kelly Smith - Stockland definately went bout this badly showing a lack of respect and empathy for Jamie's family and friends. This is his home town, his picture is plastered all over Australia on billboards, in airports, shopping centres, gyms etc. I am still bewildered as to why Stockland would enter into some sort of agreement with walking wounded and then remove the campaign poster as it offended 2 people. This is a campaign to raise awareness to STOP suicide due to PTSD in our veterans. Shame on you Stockland. I will think twice about using your facilities in future if you aren't going to support your local community as a whole and not bow down to individual pressure.

Amy Shepherd - I didn't think there was anything wrong with these posters. It certainly caught my attention every time. It made me feel sad for his family. People need to have respect for the men and women who put there lives at risk for our lifestyle. Mental illness is tough. Thank you.

William Roselt - Definitely need to be more awareness. Nobody knows whats its like to be formed up by your OC and told one of your mates is not coming to work today because he committed suicide.

Garry Jacobs - We have become the nanny state and Stocklands is holding their hand, if you find 236 ex Diggers black dogged themselves then Stockland would be better asking Turnbull why he treats the diggers so bad and why is his party not helping them instead of taking down the Diggers poster

5am: AFTER losing her husband Jamie to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) last year, Rockhampton's Tracy Cassidy used to take comfort in walking past his poster when visiting Stockland Rockhampton.

Jamie developed the condition after serving 17 years with the Australian Army and tragically took his own life in July.

Soon after, Walking Wounded approached Tracey with a request to make him the face of their most recent PTSD awareness campaign - and she immediately agreed.

The organisation, dedicated to the psychological rehabilitation and recovery of returned Australian soldiers, placed posters of Jamie in shopping centres and on billboards across Australia.

But after emotional complaints from other PTSD sufferers were made to management, Stockland Rockhampton removed the posters.

"I walked past where the posters were - I know it sounds silly but I often walk past just to say hello - and when I was up there (on Thursday), he wasn't there," Tracy said.

"I know it is confronting and difficult seeing my husband on that sign, but that is what life has done to us.

"The response and the feedback has been overwhelming from the amount of people who supported the cause and sought help after seeing those posters. That is why this is so painful that this has happened in my own town.

"He is not a statistic; there is a story behind that face. If you have PTSD ring the Walking Wounded and ask them for help. That is what this is there for."

Stockland Rockhampton said they had received a number of customer complaints, including one from a veteran experiencing post traumatic stress disorder who they said was "adversely affected" by the images.

Centre manager Nathanial Barbagallo said the centre felt it was appropriate to remove the posters for customer's wellbeing.

"It is our absolute priority is to ensure Stockland Rockhampton is a safe and inviting place for all customers to shop and socialise," he said.

"Stockland Rockhampton will continue to support local organisations for war veterans and we are happy to review alternative ways to support the Walking Wounded campaign in our centre."

And Professor Alexander McFarlane, who works for the Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies at the University of Adelaide, said it was not uncommon for PTSD sufferers to be "triggered" by memories of traumatic events.

"I can see how photographs might be distressing to other soldiers, particularly if they are struggling themselves," he said.

"One of the core parts of PTSD is that people who are exposed to horrific things have these memories and images - these might be smells, sounds or sights - which revisit them.

"If there are things in your environment that remind you, there can be a subtle link to trigger traumatic memories."

Cassidy said she understood the emotional struggles of those with PTSD and felt no ill feelings towards those who wanted the posters removed.

But, she said, the posters were there to help.

"Jamie was always helping people and I knew he would want to do this," she said.

"There just needs to be so much more awareness out there and people just need to ask for help."

Topics:  mental health ptsd stockland rockhampton suicide walking wounded

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