An Australian soldier’s fatal battle with early onset dementia is hoped to encourage investment into finding the effects of the disease after military service.
Matt Millhouse, 36, was diagnosed with the disease following two trips to Iraq and a battle with PTSD and depression.
On Thursday, his family and friends farewelled him at a funeral in Tasmania, after the dementia caused his brain to die.
The illness stemmed from a traumatic incident during one of two tours in Iraq, his wife Terese told the Nine Network.
On October 2004, Trooper Millhouse was inside one of two ASLAVs when their convoy was hit by an explosion from an improvised explosive device.
Although knocked out for a brief period, he managed to protect his wounded commander, Lieutenant Garth Callender, who later survived due to Trooper Millhouse’s efforts.
“I believe he was affected by a traumatic brain injury caused by the explosion because I can’t see any other reason for it,” she told the NineNetwork.
“It’s the only one that makes sense.”
Sydney University mental health expert Ian Hickie said the Australian Defence Force was not currently investigating early onset dementia.
He told The Australian that the US had studied links between exposure to blasts and brain injury.
“We’ve not made the same investment into tracing these difficulties,” Professor Hickie said.
The number of Afghanistan veterans who have been diagnosed with PTSD is now more than 1000 and is rising at a rate of 300 cases each year.