A major report into the support systems for Australian veterans has called for "fundamental reform" after some service personnel endured years of waiting to get help.
The Productivity Commission report identified the system of compensation and rehabilitation for veterans as out-of-date, too complex, difficult to navigate and not working in the best interest of ex-servicemen and women and their families.
Wagga veteran Richard Salcole, who served for more than 30 years, said while the Department of Veterans' Affairs has significantly improved in the past two years, there was still a long way to go.
"In some respect, they have identified faults and are now using online applications for claims," Mr Salcole, the Wagga RSL Sub-Branch vice-president, said.
"The claims process could be simplified as members who transitioned from the Australian Defence Force prior to 2017 still complete a paper-based, sluggish and laborious system."
The report found the system places unwarranted stress on claimants, with some support services not well-targeted and others "archaic".
Mr Salcole said most of his claims have been dealt with within four months, but he was aware some veterans have waited up to 10 years before receiving compensation.
"There is no cookie cutter template as every veteran has different circumstances," he said.
"As soon as people walk out, it is not until people get the treatments that they can then be assessed if they are entitled to compensation so the continuity of support is not there."
Mr Salcole called for improved links with defence and outside health care services to make transitioning easier, rather than the report's proposal for a single minister approach to oversee defence personnel and veterans.
"There is a more streamlined process for anyone who transitions from the Australian Defence Force from July 1, 2019, to receive ongoing medical assessments for the first five years, but this does not fix those discharged before that," Mr Salcole said.
"At the moment, we do not have a continuity of care; one day you're a part of the defence force and [the next a] civilian.
"All medical notes are held by defence and it is cumbersome for veterans to get all the medical files transferred to a civilian doctor."
The report also identified a new mental health strategy for veterans, with a key focus on suicide prevention that was "urgently needed".
Mr Salcole said he does not believe he has ever switched off from the war zone and still struggles in certain social situations.
"I joined the army in 1987, transferred to the airforce in 1989 and retired in 2018," he said.
"I developed anxiety, depression and agoraphobia; so I don't mix well with people, large crowds or confined spaces and some noises trigger me.
"I'm doing a lot better since I received counselling and talk to people."
However, Mr Salcole said tighter veteran communities and more peer support could stop the rate of suicide.
"The rate of suicide in defence is on par with the civilian rate, it just seems high because we've now taken an interest in reporting it," he said.
"We have to focus back on our veterans and their families and how we can help you; the RSL and Legacy were tight communities prior to the first and second world wars.
"If it wasn't for my peers' understanding, I think I would still be in a deep hole."
However, squadron leader (retired) and sub-branch member Kevin Kerr said mental health is an area that needs to be reviewed.
"The DVA had a review two years ago and found that there was a 93 per cent success rate with claims, so it's hard to understand," he said.
"But, there seems to be a change of veterans from physical to mental difficulties and the stress and strain of being in a war area or in hostile communities is taking its toll.
"I haven't suffered PTSD and I personally don't have any problems with the DVA, but my advice is to seek help from a welfare or advocate trained in paperwork to help with claims."