Vets could be missing out on help

By Roger Moroney

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There could be as many as three to four thousand veterans who are entitled to benefits.
There could be as many as three to four thousand veterans who are entitled to benefits.

Hundreds of veterans could be entitled to benefits and assistance they are not aware of.

Michael Stutchbury from Napier RSA support services said there were likely to be "three or four thousand" veterans across the region and believed there could be hundreds who were either not aware they could receive assistance through Veterans Support or who chose not to seek it as they did not believe they needed it.

"And that's where the families can come into this because they will know if there is something not right."

On December 7 last year Veterans Affairs introduced the second stage of its support scheme of veterans which would be delivered under the Veterans Independence Programme. It was focused on assisting veterans with accepted conditions to live independently in their own homes. It also reinforced standing entitlements.

Part of the assistance focused on post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which support service convener Tony Fraser said was more widespread among veterans, many of them relatively young, than people realised.

Napier RSA president John Purcell said more veterans had served in Afghanistan than in Vietnam.

Mr Fraser said a lot of veterans would not acknowledge they were a victim of PTSD.

"But you talk to the families and they will tell you because they see it - it is more common than you would think."

Mr Purcell said he had seen it for himself as someone he knew, who had served in Malaya, had effectively closed himself inside his house and would not even answer the phone.

"We need people to come forward and talk to us - or we can go and talk to them," Mr Fraser said.

Many veterans had also struggled around their homes, unaware they could get assistance for everything from getting the lawns mowed, getting access ramps put in, house cleaning and short term attendant care. There were also financial assistance benefits above pensions.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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