Letter to John Key re Lt Col Bill Blaikie

Following this post Active Service Veteran support  which makes the case of Lt Col Bill Blaikie, an Afghanistan veteran, father of 3, battling with the effects of PTSD and needing treatment” here is a letter to John Key from bjmarsh1 (posted as a comment here).

“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!


I expect that bj will have used his own name in his letter to Key.

The Lt Coll Bill Blaikie Givealittle page for those interested.

UPDATEL Currently 1,119 donors, $42,060 raised. That is a great result so far.

It includes these donations within the last hour:

RNZRSA $4,961.00

On behalf of RSAs around the country, we are stand with you. Thank you for your service.

Auckland RSA $6,250.00

On behalf of the Auckland RSA we are very greatful to you and your family for your service. You are not alone. Go well my friend.

Good to see.

But donations do not excuse the Government’s inaction.

Active Service Veteran support

Comment from bjmarsh1 from here posted.


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.

Another disgruntled veteran

In response to Disabled Veterans “diminishment of the status” another veteran adds a disgruntled account – Geoffrey Monks writes:

I was away for a few days and returned to find ‘the Letter’ waiting for me. At first glance, it looks like a reasoned announcement about how some contracted services to veterans are going to be improved but, on examination, it proves to be just the opposite. In fact, it has little more substance than a jingo page cobbled together by a word-smith with access to a box of jargon phrases.

I am of an age now where I have endured a long succession of system improvements, refinements, efficiency gains, and enhanced outcome deliveries. I am therefore forever astounded that we in NZ are not the envy of the developed world in respect of our happy, knife-edge-efficient service deliverers and contented service recipients. But it seems that the holy grail of Optimum Efficiency continues to elude us. Why is that I wonder?

Perhaps the answer lies in the nature of Efficiency; which demands a strict balance and ratio between inputs and outputs. To achieve an efficiency gain it is necessary either, to improve the output for the same level of input or, to achieve the same level of output for a reduced input. In my experience with Public Sector Agencies, each regime change is linked to an expectation that the new brooms will achieve an efficiency gain. Given that all of their predecessors will have been striving to achieve improvements in efficiency since the year dot, with each new regime it becomes exponentially harder to generate real output gains. This leaves the newcomer with little choice but to reduce inputs while attempting to maintain outputs at the same level. And this too is much easier said than done, most often resulting in any cost savings reported eventually being reflected in output reductions. For a while, new regimes can hide this diminution of service by misrepresenting reduced costs as an efficiency gain whereas, in reality, it is just cheaper. In some circles, expertise is judged by one’s adroitness in taking up new challenges before evening falls and these chickens come home.

And this, I think, is the position that VANZ has found itself to be occupying. While seeking to disguise its riding instructions under a veil of bureau-speak and nonsense phrases, the new regime at VANZ has not been able to avoid admitting that it is going to reduce the quality and quantity of the services it delivers in order to reduce their costs. The choice of blunt instruments to achieve this outcome is intended to be wielded in two ways. As presaged elsewhere, some services (such as the Transport Concession) are destined to be eliminated altogether. Otherwise, it is intended that some other services, with which veterans might presently be well satisfied, are to be replaced with cheaper less flexible options. While flailing about with its blunt instrument VANZ asserts that it is powerless, in the face of a necessary alignment with “Government standards”, to do otherwise. But, we are assured that the results will at least be of the best value possible, under the circumstances. Really?

I suspect that an equal part of VANZ’ problem is its resolute adherence to the curious notion that it is an across-the-board service deliverer. But it is not: a large part of its’ role is to administer the delivery of services offered by a variety of specialist agencies. It is no more able to judge the quality of a lawn mowing service than it is able to judge the validity of a psychological appraisal. It can only judge the response of the recipients of the service and the costs of its delivery. VANZ’ argument that the signaled reduction in contract rates will obviate the delivery to some (silent?) veterans of any sub-standard service is total rubbish. Indeed, it is more than that: it is outrageously patronizing, for in this round of adjustments ‘cost’ is VANZ’ only consideration.

So, in the words of our esteemed Prime Minister, I would say to the Manager of Veterans’ Services, “Get some guts!” If you think they have had it too good for too long, stop wittering on about improving service delivery models. Just whack Veterans down alongside the pot-heads and dole-bludgers where they belong. From the way they carry on, anyone would think these jokers had rendered some sort of service to the Nation! Now that all the main players are safely back from Gallipoli, you can put all of that eye-watering debt-of-gratitude stuff on the back burner for thirty more years and get on with beasting those ratbags who had the temerity to come home from a war. Oh, and while you are about it, rip into their pensions as well.