By Doug Francis,
Just come back from the Veterans Affairs meeting. A lot was discussed (the Army being the most talkative)’ The following points were discussed:
- Pre 1974 being handled by a caring benevolent organisation , the post 74 section being handled by deny organisation
- Not enough being done to inform service persons on what they re entitled to both during service and on leaving.
- The slow process on applications.
- The possibility of both sections being handled by Defence instead of two separate organisations.
- The definition of a Veteran. The whole act is based on the Canadian example ,Yet when Canada changed their breakdown of what is a Vet, NZ didn’t. ( Harvey Toots name was mentioned lol. You certainly made a good impression on them Harve (Twice).
- Problem with Malayan vets. and their issues.
- The lack of communication to applicants and the delays.
I was given an opportunity to speak and outlined my thoughts.
1. First on who is and isn’t a Vet (which seemed to have wide support not only in Christchurch but throughout NZ.) You sign on the dotted line and serve you should be a Veteran. There was a suggestion that we have a grading system like the Yanks.
2. I made sure to have written in the minutes the situation of not all (if many) ships actually carried a Medical Officer i.e. a doctor and the fact that the army whallers on the tribunal were under the false impression that the XO was in fact a doctor when all he was in fact was a Divisional Officer for the Medical Branch on board. (This was entered into the record for further discussion)
3. The lack of certified hearing protection issued to naval ratings prior to 1984 And included all engineering ratings as well as gunners, Flight Deck parties and others. The hearing protection issued or worn was never certified as approved. (will help with all hearing applications in the future I hope)
4. That all ships on leaving Devonport where considered to be on operational service and could at a moments notice be deployed anywhere without need to be made ready for active service, and in cases have been so.
The outcome after the meeting I was approached the Deputy Head Of Veterans Affairs (VA), a Marti Eller who asked if I would be available to consult on applications if required on the basis of “does this medical situation fit within the Defence Medical parameters and was this condition feasible to have been the outcome of Military service ?”) It seems that no ex Medical Officers can or will serve as consultants. So VA is gathering senior ex medical people to act as a sounding board for these applications if no medical evidence ( due to lost record or poor record keeping) is available. This will help those poor souls that have no records of their medical condition and gives credence to their claims. I (Like Alby Osborne) have helped some in the past. They want to move away from the tribunal making these decisions by ex officers with no actual medical knowledge. Can only be a good thing moving forward. All in all a very good meeting with a lot of positive things to come out of it.
For further comments by ex Service Personnel click HERE