Against these two tenets of the Australian spirit, it is alarming and appalling to witness our government's treatment of those veterans who have fought for our nation in a range of conflicts.
Successive Liberal and Labor federal governments have been only too eager to send troops into battle in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade to support the US war efforts.
The Australian Government will spend more than $26 billion on defence in the coming year - up from about $12 billion in 2000 - about 1.8 percent of the nation's GDP.
So why are many of our veterans throwing their hands in despair at the treatment received by the organisation designed to look after them, the Department of Veterans Affairs?
As outlined in today's Insight cover story, an increasing number of veterans from all conflicts continue to be struck down with the silent curse known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Experts agree that PTSD often does not rear its ugly head until years after the experiences which caused it - leaving many ex-service men and women in the position of having to prove to the DVA that their condition was related to their service.
Having to negotiate a virtual minefield of red tape and paperwork is a huge ask for anyone in such a mental state and veterans say the DVA is hasty to reject claims for medical benefits and disability pensions, forcing men and women into a protracted process which can drag on for three years.
Because norepinephrine enhances emotional memory, a soldier taking a stimulant medication, which releases norepinephrine in the brain, could be at higher risk of becoming fear-conditioned and getting PTSD in the setting of trauma.
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Op-Ed Columnist: A Veteran’s Death, the Nation’s Shame (April 15, 2012)
This possibility is supported by both animal and human studies. In rats, tiny injections of norepinephrine into the amygdala, a region of the brain that encodes fear, can enhance fear conditioning. And Marieke Soeter at the University of Amsterdam recently conducted an experiment in which college students were shown a picture paired with a small electric shock. Before viewing the pictures, subjects were randomly given yohimbine, a drug that releases norepinephrine in the brain, or a placebo. When students were tested 48 hours later, those who had received yohimbine had greater fear-associated learning and had a harder time “unlearning” the fear — when presented with the picture in the absence of a shock — than those students who had taken the placebo.
The study implies that soldiers exposed to elevated norepinephrine levels from taking stimulants are also at risk of relapse when re-exposed to the initial stressor. And because the treatment of PTSD involves unlearning fear responses, soldiers exposed to stimulants during trauma could well be more resistant to treatment.
And in fact, blocking the effects of norepinephrine with beta blockers can stop fear-conditioning and possibly even prevent post-traumatic stress disorder.
Roger Pittman, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School, led a small study in 2002 in which he randomly assigned emergency-room patients to either the beta blocker propranolol or a placebo within six hours of their experiencing a traumatic event. After one month, subjects who took the propranolol had significantly fewer symptoms of PTSD than subjects who took the placebo.
Does all of this prove that stimulants promote the development of post-traumatic stress disorder?
No. Because two things are correlated doesn’t mean there is a causal link. There are other factors that might play an important role, like incurring a traumatic brain injury, which is a known risk factor for the disorder, and growing steadily during these wars.
Still, it is an open question whether the use of stimulants in combat does more good than harm. The next step should be a rigorous epidemiologic study of a possible link between stimulants and PTSD in our troops.
Those unable to work because of their conditions, and war widows and their families who are eventually granted pensions, are not on easy street, however it helps ease the burden of daily life and gives veterans a sense of comfort that their families will be looked after when they die.
But many, like father of two and Navy veteran Brett Cooper, do not have the mental or physical reserves to fight another war with their own government and give up on life before this recognition occurs.
Brett's wife Lisa believes her husband would not have taken his own life if he had received treatment and recognition for his war-caused PTSD when he first asked for help.
Tragically, his story is far from unique among veterans.
Even in cold, hard, economic terms, the petty rejection of a pension worth a few hundred dollars a week is flawed. Those afflicted with PTSD and related illnesses who are allowed by authorities to slide into the depths of despair cost our nation dearly, in money terms but moreso in terms of our national identity.
One of Australia's greatest war heroes, Arthur Seaforth Blackburn VC began campaigning for a better deal for veterans after World War I, almost a century ago.
It is truly a disgrace that in 2012, veterans continue to feel let down and humiliated by the government they pledged to serve with absolute loyalty.
This Anzac Day, spare a thought for those men and women.
They deserve better.