Active Service Veteran support

Comment from bjmarsh1 from here posted.


SUPPORT TO NZ VETERANS OF ACTIVE SERVICE

I have previously resisted going Public on this state of affairs because of my personal involvement, however, the case of Lt Col Bill Blaikie, an Afghanistan veteran, father of 3, battling with the effects of PTSD and needing treatment that is not available here, but is available in Australia.

This soldier is reduced to having to make a Public Appeal to raise the $40,000 needed for his treatment. He has been rejected by Veterans Affairs for support because they do not fund overseas treatment. The President of the RSA was sympathetic but no funds were forthcoming.

Now isn’t it time that you and I start asking the hard questions of why not Veterans Affairs? And to the RSA, what happened to the thousands of dollars collected on each annual poppy day especially for the welfare of our Veterans?

I have a personal problem with Veterans Affairs relating to their demand that I use the Health Insurance whichI have paid thousand of dollars over the years to ensure the health of my family, to pay for a mandatory procedure required to decide whether or not I could survive the treatment I required for an agreed attributable condition.

When I attended the Hospital to go through the procedure, I found I was sitting next to another officer who was undergoing the identical procedure. I asked him if he had Health Insurance and he confirmed he had the same insurance as I did. He then said that Veterans Affairs had approved payment for his procedure but he did not have to use his Health Insurance.

Now, I ask you is that fair, and was I receiving the same support for the same attributable condition?

I wrote to Veterans Affairs and pointed out that their policy of requiring veterans to use their personal health insurance for the treatment of attributable conditions was “Ultra Vires” i.e. Beyond their right to make such a decision and in support quoted Sect 10 of the Veterans Support Act 201 which says :

“(Section) 10 Functions to be performed and powers to be exercised in accordance with certain principles

Every person who performs any function or exercises any power under this Act must do so—

(a) in acknowledgement, on behalf of the community, of the responsibility for the injury, illness, or death of veterans as a result of them being placed in harm’s way in the service of New Zealand; and

(b) in accordance with the following principles:
(i) the principle of providing veterans, their spouses and partners, their children, and their dependants with fair entitlements:
(ii) the principle of promoting equal treatment of equal claims:
(iii) the principle of taking a benevolent approach to claims:
(iv) the principle of determining claims—
(A) in accordance with substantial justice and the merits of the claim; and
(B) not in accordance with any technicalities, legal forms, or legal rules of evidence.”

As this is a statement of mandatory guiding principles, I believe the principles of equal treatment of equal claims, the principle of taking a benevolent approach to claims, and the principle of determining claims with regard to the substantial justice and the merits of the complaint and not in accordance with any technicalities, legal forms, or legal rules of evidence far outweighs Veterans Affairs justification that they have the right to determine what and where treatment is to occur.

It is my considered view that Veterans Affairs are wrong both in law as well as in terms of natural justice. By their decision they have created separate classes of Veterans, those who have Health Insurance and those who do not!

What do you think?


Comments already on this topic here.

The Lt Coll Bill Blaikie Givealittle page for those interested.
https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/onedollarwarriorsfightforbill

Leave a comment

18 Comments

  1. Than you Pete for emphasising this point. I have received a number of comments from other Veterans who are disabled persons like myself, and they are universally supportive of the idea that the National Government is failing with a duty that goes back to the Land Wars in NZ. If a Politician sends a soldier into armed conflict, their unsigned, but moral contract, has to be to provide for the battle casualties treatment and for the consequential protection of the next of kin of those persons who are killed or wounded. The attitude of the NZ Veterans Affairs to this combat victim is morally and ethically wrong, and is illegal, by any reading of the Veterans Support Act 2014 Section 10. The Head of Veterans Affairs and her Minister should be called to account. They are contributing to the destruction of the morale of our servicemen by their lack of concern for Section 10 of the Act, and deserved to be sacked.
    Please voice your support for our servicemen, and demand that the RSA front up to their responsibilities in this matter.

    Reply
  2. Brown

     /  20th June 2016

    $26 mil for flag nonsense but those who do the hard and dangerous work under it get tossed aside. The world is upside down and those that deserve respect don’t get it.

    Reply
  3. Have a look at what they have in kitty in the National RSA, it over $2 million. However, I understand each district RSA has a separate trust for Welfare purposes, which contain most of the funds raised on Poppy Day. How much are they holding as reserves? And, how much are they actually using for assistance to Veterans? Can somone explain please?

    Reply
    • Halliver

       /  21st June 2016

      Good question BJ, I’ve always wondered about myself. I’ll say that a lot goes to keeping these clubs going and not much is spent on veterans. A lot of clubs don’t even have veterans as members so how can they ask for poppy money? seems like a scam to me,

      Reply
  4. Halliver

     /  21st June 2016

    Veterans need to get together and teach young people not to join the military because the government obviously wont care for them. If the governments not going to look after our soldiers then they can find someone else to be a pawn in their political games.

    Reply
  5. Missy

     /  21st June 2016

    I don’t think any recent Government’s have been very good at looking after our veterans – or indeed to a degree our current serving personnel.

    These are the men (and women) who pledge their allegiance to the Queen, and are willing to head into the worst of situations in the world in order to do something many of them believe in.

    PTSD or Combat Stress is also a very serious issue, and I do not think our Government is that good at looking after these men (and women). I also think in the past that the NZDF have been quite poor at looking after these service members during their time in service, part of this is a culture within the military, and part is of institutional problems, but I think the current leadership are working to trying to change that. I am speaking from the point of view of having a friend commit suicide due to a number of issues he was having, some related to his time in the military. The care that he received was very poor, but also there was a culture of it not being ‘manly’ to discuss these kind of issues with people. If soldiers received psychological assistance it was put on their file, and could have a negative impact on their careers, I would like to think that this is changing and instead of it being a stigma, that the focus is going on helping those that need it.

    I am not sure I have expressed myself well in that, or got across my thoughts adequately, but I do hope that LTCOL Blake gets the help he needs, the consequences of him not could be devastating.

    BJM as for your personal circumstances, first I admire you for speaking up on this, it can be difficult for anyone to share such personal things about themselves. I wish you all the best with getting any treatment you need. From my reading of the part of the legislation you have put up, I would have thought that Veterans Affairs were acting contrary to the law, and I wish you luck with your dealings with them.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  21st June 2016

      Very well said Missy.

      Reply
      • Missy

         /  21st June 2016

        Cheers Gezza.

        This is certainly something I feel strongly about, I haven’t served, but I have so much respect for those that have, and it makes me angry they are not looked after as well as they should be, but so many are worried about the rights and conditions for murderers and rapists.

        BJM and Pete, thanks for this, and for the link to the Give a little page. I have donated a small amount in the hopes it helps him get the help he needs.

        Reply
        • Missy, Gezza, Pete. First Missy, thank you sincerely for your support on this issue, you really tugged at my heartstrings, and being a big boy now, that doesn’t happen very often. Thank you! Gezza and Pete also deserve thanks, Pete for his support by publishing my initial comments and Gezza and others for their positive support on what is to me a real concern for the welfare of our young soldiers especially those who are damaged by involvement in armed conflict. The day to day stress is cumulative and even if you retain a sense of humour, you can’t just laugh it off. Separately I have received a number of emails from Veterans who support the statements I have made, and without exception they are critical if VANZ and the RSA for not pulling their weight.
          This is a very sad state of affairs. But hey everyone thanks for your support, it means much to the Veterans and serving soldiers.

          Reply
          • Missy

             /  21st June 2016

            BJM, my intention was certainly not to tug at heartstrings, but just to let you (and any other veterans out there reading this) know that there are those that support you, appreciate your service, and wish that the Government did so much more to provide the support and care you may need.

            It is very sad that we are in a position as a country that those that serve in the uniform of our country are not treated better.

            For me, as we come up to the centenary of Somme (this year) and Passchendaele (next year) I wonder just how far we have come in looking after our veterans, and to be honest I don’t think that far.

            This post has made me very emotional and to a degree allowed me to feel true sadness at the loss of my friend, not just the circumstances surrounding his death, so for that I thank you, it was emotional, but in a good way. Please don’t take this in the wrong way, it has been good for me, as previously I was really focussed on the way he died and the circumstances around his death, but to be able to think about it in terms of him, and not the circumstances he died in has been a good thing.

            I hope that one day we become better at looking after our young service people and our veterans, they truly are people we should be proud of, and celebrate, not ignore and hide away.

            Reply
  6. MaureenW

     /  21st June 2016

    Thanks for this post BJMARSH1 and the opportunity to donate to a deserving Veteran. I hope Lt Col Bill Blaikie will be successful in raising the funds he requires for treatment.

    Reply
  7. Geoffrey

     /  21st June 2016

    Given that Veterans’ Affairs is staffed by people, there will be, from time to time, variations in the application of policy between one claim and another. One staff member will attach slightly greater significance to a subtle nuance of interpretation than perhaps his neighbour in the next booth might – that is just a factor of human nature. BUT: when an interpretation of the rules is challenged by an aggrieved veteran, there is no excuse for any variation at all between the application of the spirit of the Act between two or more ostensibly similar claims. Once a precedent has been set, it must be applied rigorously under all similar circumstances unless either a claimant or Veterans’ Affairs can demonstrate that a previously accepted precedent was wrong in law or or in application. Too often it is a simple bureaucratic fumble that creates the sometimes bizarre differences between the way in which two erstwhile similar claims are processed by the department.

    It seems likely that such variation is exaggerated by the conflict in interpretation of function and the expectation of outcome between the veteran community and Veterans’ Affairs. The former could be characterised by their simple acceptance of the VSA14 as a set of rules by which Veterans’ Affairs is empowered to deliver the service promised to them in exchange for their willingness to be placed in harm’s way. The latter however seems to be governed by a murky obligation to minimise it’s departmental expenditure against some undisclosed budget. And, I suppose there will ever be differences of opinion between those wanting dosh and those doling it out. In this matter of Veterans versus their service delivery agent (Veterans’ Affairs) however, there is an additional complication.

    ACC is set up to deliver a compensation package that NZ citizens (including the armed forces) have pre-purchased, with deductions from their pay. Where ACC can demonstrate (to its own satisfaction at least) that a particular service, treatment or remedy has not been pre-purchased, or can be delivered by some other agency, they are institutionally hard-wired to decline a claim. That is just the way budget management works when there is no element of obligation or benevolence involved: money in – money out, kerching!

    Notwithstanding the warm fuzzies contained in the non-binding padding around the new Act, which was contrived to encourage the innocent to believe otherwise, VSA14 was designed in fact to emulate the form and function of ACC. Arguably this was a feature that will enable the stand-alone VSA14 (soon ?) to be declared superfluous to requirements and repealed, leaving a single unified user-pays compensation scheme. There would remain of course the cherry of the Veterans’ top-up to which those for the time being in Government can point to as evidence of their enduring gratitude and benevolence. That the cherry is but a small fraction of what used to be freely available to veterans under the WPA54. is never acknowledged. Moreover, the cherry is only accessible with qualifying service. And with “War”, “Combat” and the like having been written out of that Act as having no further relevance to New Zealand’s benign strategic environment, and the decision as to which place of deployment might be considered to be “Operational” vested in the Treasury, be prepared for a lean stone-fruit harvest in the coming years.

    Reply
    • Geoff, as always you have got it sussed. It is time for our Cabinet to declare what their real agenda is. I and a lot of my fellow Veterans have no confidence in the Minister of Veterans Affairs and call upon the Prime Minister to sack him. This is not a singular opinion, but a reflection of many Veterans about their apparently diminishing support. We are really concerned about the Government’s commitment to our damaged servicemen. I have more to say to Minister Foss. Stop blaming your staff and front up publicly, We are sick of being pushed into the background by a National Government and demand to be heard. Thank you Geoff, and see below.

      Reply
  8. I have made a representation to our Prime Minister as well. It says:
    “Dear Prime Minister,

    I wish to draw your attention to a serious failure in the unwritten contract between the Government and the servicemen they send off to active service. That unspoken contract which dates back to the Land Wars in New Zealand is that the Government will ensure that they provide the necessary treatment for battle casualties, and provide for affected dependants. This contract if fundamental to the maintenance of morale and the fighting ethic of New Zealand servicemen. The consequences of a failure to keep the Government’s end of the bargain inevitably leads to a loss in combat efficiency and effectiveness. This is an elementary fact of warfare.
    Lt Col Bill Blaikie a father of three children, as a consequence of his active service has received some treatment in New Zealand, but now needs specialised treatment for PTSD which is not available in New Zealand.but is available in Australia. After being rejected by Veterans Affairs for support, as well as apparently the RSA, he is now reduced to an appeal to the public of New Zealand for $40,000 to fund his treatment. I as a former senior Army Officer with active service experience including Vietnam, am horrified by a National Government’s failure to act, and am even more disappointed that the Minister in charge of Veterans Affairs was not available for comment. He lacks moral courage.
    Shame on you all.”

    The response I received was an automatic reply indicating that because this was a personal opinion I would not necessarily receive a response from the Prime Minister. This is not the sort of response I would expect from a caring Government to an experienced Officer especially on the day we as a country have committed our servicemen to a further two years of commitment in a hostile environment. I call upon the Prime Minister to respond to my questions in Public. It is time to be honest John Key!

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  21st June 2016

      Lt Col Blaikie featured, with support from the hosts, on Seven Sharp tonight BJ. If you didn’t see it, watch TV One+1.
      Woodhouse advised 7S that DHB’s have special funding that may cover his situation.

      Reply
      • Thanks Gezza. I missed all of that even though my daughter gave me a heads up. It would be good to see if the GHB’s can ante up with help, but that robs a civilian of their health support. I want the Government, the RSA and the Veterans Affairs to explain why they are not doing their job of looking after our battle casualties. At the same time where are the Labour and Peter’s parties comments on this. Hello, is there anyone there?

        Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s