SPECIAL BOND: Vietnam veteran Barry Haydon with his dog Toby. Barry wants more veterans to attend TPDSA meetings at the Kingaroy RSL every month.
SPECIAL BOND: Vietnam veteran Barry Haydon with his dog Toby. Barry wants more veterans to attend TPDSA meetings at the Kingaroy RSL every month. Will Hunter

Animal therapy helps Vietnam veteran

VIETNAM veteran Barry Haydon finds solace from the memory of war by spending time with his animals.

Life on the land has helped Barry, who was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder following service in Vietnam.

"Occasionally there's demons walking around. I can wake up in the middle of the night and come outside and the animals will be there," he said.

"It's a therapy because it gives me something to think about, it gives me something to get out of bed for, some form of exercise.

"It's got me where I am today."

Barry joined the Royal Australian Navy in 1970 and was discharged in 1972.

He said many veterans like him found niches which kept them on the 'straight and narrow', but not all.

"There's still people out there today that haven't been able to find that niche...they're not going looking for help," he said.

Barry hopes those veterans can find that help through the South Burnett branch of the Totally and Permanently Disabled Soldiers Association.

Barry, the organisation's president, said the group aimed to assist veterans in the community who needed help.

"It's more of a fellowship meeting," Barry said.

"It's like an oversized family. It's good to get together and check everybody is coping alright.

"Once you joined the armed services, you become a member of a very large family.

"Those family ties last a lifetime.

"When you look it, we all like to look after our family members."

He hopes to get younger veterans involved in the organisation.

"It's another thing that's going to fall by the wayside," Barry said.

"Because the age bracket is up there, if we don't try recruiting we'll lose that organisation."

The group meets on the third Tuesday of every month at the Kingaroy RSL at 11am.

For more information on the TPDSA South Burnett branch, phone Barry on 41647177.

TPDSA, which formed in 2004, provides services to Totally and Permanently Incapacitated (TPI) and Extreme Disablement Adjustment (EDA) veterans, and war widows.

There are five social centres in Queensland.

South Burnett

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