Where are you Going to be Buried?

A recent article at page 14 in the VA News 2019 Autumn Edition is another example of a poorly written article, which can be read in different ways, causes confusion and is incorrect in some of its contents.

The article in question, with the major offending paragraph in red, is:

For most of our veterans, one of New Zealand’s cemeteries will be their final resting place

War graves

Members of the armed forces who died during the First and Second World Wars are buried in war graves, which are looked after by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The Ministry for Culture and Heritage acts on behalf of the Commission in New Zealand and looks after graves that commemorate 2,908 personnel in 433 sites throughout the country.

Services cemeteries

There are also 183 services cemeteries in New Zealand, where people with specified operational service and their spouse or partner can be buried. There is no requirement that those buried in services cemeteries need to have died in a conflict, or as a result of a conflict. Each services cemetery is the responsibility of a local authority, with most of them being part of public cemeteries managed by district and city councils. Some are managed by local Returned and Services’ Associations or cemetery boards, with one in Waiouru managed by the New Zealand Defence Force. Veterans’ Affairs works to support local authorities to maintain and develop these services cemeteries. In the next edition of VA News, we will have an in-depth look at New Zealand’s services cemeteries—The final resting place of our veterans and the work that goes into their development and upkeep by a range of organisations.

Other burials

Former military personnel may also be buried in public or private cemeteries or urupa. Their graves, in these places, may not identify them as military. Navy veterans also have the option of having their ashes scattered at sea. We have a story about this on page 14.

Leaving aside the issue of operational service, the final paragraph is a real doozy and the epitome of misinformation.

What is the article trying to tell us here? Is it saying personnel with specified operational service may choose to be buried outside of a services cemetery as well as those without specified operational service? If there is not a local services cemetery they do not have much choice. But more importantly, what do they mean when they say the graves may not identify the person as military? Are they merely saying that ex-military personnel buried outside of services cemeteries may have headstones or plaques on their grave that does not indicate that they had previous military service? Or are they saying that personnel buried in graves outside of services cemeteries should not identify them as military; that is, restricting what they can have on their grave? If it is the latter, what right does VANZ or any other authority have to say what an ex-military person can have on their grave about them having military service?

The two main errors, however, are about having ashes scattered at sea. Restricting it to Navy veterans is wrong. As well as opening up the question about who is a veteran, any ex-Navy person may ask to have their ashes scattered at sea. Additionally, it omits to state that this is only relevant to having ashes scattered at sea from an RNZN vessel, with an appropriate service conducted. Anyone can have their ashes scattered at sea from a private boat.

The whole article seems self-serving in nature. It does not contain any news or information relevant to ex-service personnel and does not add value in any way.

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