Thursday, July 14, 2011

Their Final Battle Victory

At last NZ will do more for its veterans.
But it took Australia to get the ball rolling!
Our old boys will now get more money to attend commemorations, after the NZ Government was embarrassed over its treatment of Battle of Crete veterans this year. Aussie Crete veterans stayed in the same hotels as officials, received free healthcare and were treated as guests of honour. In contrast, kiwi veterans got $2000 (which didn't even cover their airfares) and had to make their own arrangements…while NZ Defence Minister Wayne Mapp stayed in superior hotels at a cost of $26,000 to the taxpayer! Quite frankly, did he need to be there at all? The attendance of these veterans was far more relevant…
Earlier this year, Major-General Sandy Thomas went public after the govt declined to help fund his trip to Crete. The 92-year-old ultimately received assistance, and others who’d already got a one-off Veterans Affairs $2000 grant were invited to apply again...but yesterday we heard those 16 vets would not be receiving any compensation.
This is PATHETIC: the govt should be ASHAMED!!
Wayne Mapp now says WWII veterans attending future 70th annvsy commemorations will have their airfare and accommodation covered. But of course this may be merely academic window-dressing, as our WWII warhorses are into their 90s now – how few will be capable of safely travelling to the other side of the world, to commemorate and remember their sacrifices?
Coming up over the next few years are significant WWII 70th annvsy commemorations including the Battle of Monte Cassino (2014) and VE and VJ days (2015). However the 70th annvsy of the second Battle of El Alamein (Oct.2012) might not be marked because of unrest in Egypt.
Other important battle dates have slipped by unmarked (such as the 60th anniversary of Kap’yong last April). More govt attention needs to be given to the dates that have shaped the military history of this country…while we can still honour those who fought on our behalf.
But first: compensate those 16 old warriors NOW!

[see also my May 2011 post about the Battle Of Crete...]

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