I, and other servicemen and ex servicemen recently attended the funeral of a fellow shipmate who had served 21 years and 90 days in Her Majesty’s NZ Naval Force. A certificate of service was provided to the local RSA and in consultation with Veterans Affairs it was determined that he was ineligble to be buried in the Service Section of his local cemetery.
He had no ‘Operational Service’ according to Veterans Affairs.
I and many other serviceman present were disgusted that a man who had served his country was denied his wish and that of his family. Where have we gone wrong?
On review of the Burial and Cremations Act 1964, Section 15 which was last amended in 1997 it would appear that the term ‘Operational Service’ used as the criteria for medallic recognition has now flowed on to whether a serviceman is eligible to be buried in the Service Section of a cemetery.
So, under current legislation, if you served after 1966 on the Far East Strategic Reserve and never qualified for ‘Operational Service’ under current legislation you are not entitled to be interred in a plot reserved for a member of Her Majesty’s Forces.
I like many of you have served in the forces for a good part of our life. I have completed 52 years in the service, I am not classed as a veteran, I have not qualified for ‘Operational Service’, I served in the Far East Strategic Reserve and I find now that I am not eligible to be buried in the Service Section of my local cemetery.
If you are concerned as to your entitlement it is strongly recommended that you write to the Minister of Defence, Minister of Veterans Affairs, Your local MP, National RSA and the Chief of Defence Force expressing your concerns over eligibility.