A Central Hawke's Bay Vietnam veteran is encouraging fellow vets to reach our for help they are entitled to.
Roger Maaka, from Takapau in Central Hawke's Bay, managed to catch up with old army mates but also received valuable information about his health care at a recent expo in Lower Hutt.
• Hawke's Bay military enthusiast finds and restores Maraekakaho Rolls of Honour
• Napier man swaps welder for military kit in Malaysia
• Hawke's Bay Muslim community praises Government's immediate change in gun laws
• Hawke's Bay man life changed through Limited Service Volunteer experience
More than 300 Vietnam veterans and their family members attended the October 19 health and wellbeing expo organised by Veterans' Affairs at the Lower Hutt Event Centre.
While the expo was a resounding success for those who attended, it is believed between 200 and 300 Vietnam veterans are not accessing the services available to them through Veterans' Affairs.
Maaka said there was a combination of reasons why some Vietnam veterans hadn't accessed their entitlements.
"In conversation with comrades, we've acknowledged that there are some health issues which we've maybe ignored and we should get them attended to for our families and for ourselves," he said.
Veterans' Affairs, working in partnership with Ranfurly Veterans Trust, brought together 20 veteran support agencies, providers and support organisations to provide support and services in a "one-stop shop" for Vietnam veterans from the Lower North Island.
Veterans met Veterans' Affairs case managers, veteran support agencies and local service providers, received a health check, and were provided seminars and tools to support independent daily living.
Maaka said the expo provided focus on health issues affecting the attending veterans.
"Because our military service is no longer a feature of daily life, you deal with different things, like health or social or comrade issues, in isolation," he said.
"Coming together with other veterans in this environment allows us to concentrate on all the issues affecting us.
"Some of us are not very well informed or haven't gone out of our way to be informed. The expo is an opportunity to become informed in a low-key way."
Head of Veterans' Affairs Bernadine Mackenzie said bringing together Veterans' Affairs and affiliated organisations in one place was a great way for Vietnam veterans to get information face to face.
"We know the value in sitting down with our veterans and talking with them about what they need," Mackenzie said.
"It helps us to make sure that they are getting the support they need for independent daily living."
Vietnam veterans who are not accessing veteran support are encouraged to contact Veterans' Affairs at www.veteransaffairs.mil.nz or call 0800 483 8372.