Good time to remember NZDF personnel deployed overseas 

By Aroha Treacher

With around 15,000 New Zealand Defence Force personnel currently serving, spare a thought for some 70 personnel currently deployed overseas who are unable to come home because of the Covid-19 crisis.

“It is a good time also to remember those today from our nation that continue to serve overseas who would love to be home but can’t because of the restrictions of this virus,” former soldier Des Ratima says.

“What people don’t realise is that there are over 30,000 young new veterans - women and men - who have served in the Solomon Islands, East Timor, Afghanistan, Bosnia, the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights, you name it,” Minister of Defence Ron Mark says.

But current travel restrictions have meant around 74 personnel have had their deployments extended.

“Some of those personnel, they would’ve expected and their families would’ve expected them to be rotating back to New Zealand having completed their assigned tour of duty. Sadly, Covid-19 has placed travel restrictions on everybody,” Mark says.

“It’s a challenge but we’re used to challenges and there’s a lot of Facebook and social media, and those who have served overseas become accustomed to being separated from families,” Colonel Glenn King says.

Some military exercises have been postponed indefinitely and protective hygiene practises have been implemented.

“Crews are isolated from each other in order to be confident that, if one member of one crew within a squadron goes down with Covid-19, it does not affect another crew and it does not affect our capability,” Mark says, speaking of the defence force.

The NZDF continues to assist police and disaster relief overseas but when deployed personnel can come home remains uncertain.