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PROTECTING THE PROTECTORS: The mental health crisis in the Defence Forces.
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Almost a year ago, the only psychiatrist working in the Defence Forces retired from his post.

Since then, the Defence Forces has failed to find a replacement to fill the role. The position was formally advertised in July, but not a single application for the €112,550-a-year post was received.

So what has the impact of the vacancy been - and how successful have Defence officials been in plugging the gap over the past 11 months?

The Defence Forces is by its nature a difficult job and soldiers face challenges serving at home and abroad that are unique to military service.

Combined with ongoing issues of low pay in the service, this has created a major problem in providing proper mental health care to Defence Forces personnel.

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We want to look at why the essential job of providing psychiatric care to the Defence Forces has been left unfilled for so long and the impact this has had on personnel, some of whom have been forced to wait for appointments while suffering from debilitating conditions.

We will also look at the adequacy of interim measures put in place by the Department of Defence to give Ireland's military personnel the healthcare they need and deserve.

This project was funded by Journal Media.