A $4.1mil cash boost from government to support the health and wellbeing of veterans and their families when they leave the defence forces has been welcomed by those at Anzac commemorations. Minister for Veterans Ron Mark says many are unaware of their entitlements after service.
The Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (RNZIR) 2nd/1st Battalion’s Tai Nathan says, "It just shows them how much they've given and that our country is still there to help give back and make sure that they're alright, and their families."
Veterans’ Minister Ron Mark says, "One of the big concerns I have is the consequence of [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder] and injury, which we know can lead to suicide and we have to do better in that space."
Delivered over four years, the extra funds include $2.1mil in operating funding and a capital injection of $2mil to upgrade the existing client management system.
Mark says, "They don't know that when they come back from Afghanistan and Iraq that they are eligible. It's partly because most of our veterans are self-reliant, they pride themselves on their resilience and their hardiness, their independence- and they don't like putting their hands up and asking for help."
The NZ Army’s Leighton Faulkner says, "Some veterans aren't on the register so we don't know they exist, we don't know if they've passed, we don't know how many are still alive to make themselves known...that funding is there for them if they need it and if they require it. It's a good thing."
With more than 31,000 veterans including younger servicemen and women, Mark says early intervention is needed to prevent mental and physical health conditions getting worse.
"I don't think people realise that the veterans they most often think about, from WWI, WWII, and Korea are these days outnumbered three-to-one by the young women and men who have served in such places as East Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq."
Younger veterans could also receive services online which would free up resources for more complex cases.