Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Why Does NZ Screw Our Veterans?

Sam and Bev in 2008
He was yet another post-Vietnam War casualty.
His widow’s been fighting the Veterans’ Affairs Dept.for two years for compensation.
Now it’s said “no”.
Bev Christie (awarded a Queen's Service Medal for her voluntary work with veterans) has been denied a $25,000 ex gratia government payment, after her husband Sam (MBE) died from a combination of diseases contracted during Vietnam. Some of those were recognised by Vet.Affairs as attributable to his war service, but it doubts Sam was suffering from chloracne (for which a payment is made).
Last year, dermatologist Matthew Strack said Sam's skin condition quite possibly was caused by exposure to Agent Orange: "I feel (veterans) should be given the benefit of the doubt if there is uncertainty and I think the same should apply here."
But typical of bureaucracy, when faced with responsibility and/or payments, we hear a response like this – Vet.Affairs GM Rick Ottaway says veterans are NOT offered the benefit of the doubt. There is no LEGAL application of ‘benefit of the doubt’, and in order to accept chloracne, it needed to be positively diagnosed. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. So...we’re not LEGALLY obliged (by our OWN rules), therefore we’ll do nothing.
What about MORAL obligations? The growing Anzac Day attendances shows NZers care about the vets and their sacrifices. Dammit! We EXPECT the government to feel the same! [In 2008, the govt publicly apologised to Vietnam vets and their families, saying they were unfairly treated fairly upon their return. It also established an ex-gratia payment of $40,000 for those with prescribed medical conditions and a $25,000 payment to the spouses of veterans who have died.]
I’ve blogged in the past about the plight of our Crete veterans…how NZ didn’t officially acknowledge the legendary WWII resistance fighter, NZer Nancy Wake…and who's really paying for damage caused by the herbicide Agent Orange.
If there is one group of people who this country SHOULD…MUST crawl over broken glass for, it is our war veterans!

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