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Better health treatment for veterans' children

23 April 2001 Media Statement

Better health treatment for veterans' children


Prime Minister Helen Clark and Veterans' Affairs Minister Mark Burton announced today that the government will give special assistance to veterans’ children suffering from spina bifida or cleft lip/palate.

"Veterans who served in Vietnam and those who witnessed nuclear testing in the Pacific (Operation Grapple) have for many years asked for government support for the special health needs of their children. Up until now they haven't been given fair treatment.

"Today we are recognising their concerns and will act quickly.

"Additional assistance for veterans will include coverage of any additional payments for doctors' visits, pharmaceutical charges, and support services.

"If links between service in Vietnam and Operational Grapple and other specific health conditions or disabilities in their children are established, we will also consider providing assistance for such conditions.

"Rather than replicating research in New Zealand, we will continue to monitor the results of extensive research undertaken in other countries such as the United States and Australia.

"Some of the veterans' children are now adults starting to make decisions about having their own families. We recognise the need to fund specialist advice such as genetic counselling if the veterans' children choose to seek it.

"This service will also be extended to the families of veterans from other military theatres.

"Being a member of a veteran's family can sometimes create its own pressures. We will make funding available to provide individual or family counselling on a case-by-case basis for all families of veterans.

"All of these new health services will be provided under case management by the Office of Veterans’ Affairs.

"We are presently looking at the details of how the service will be operated with the aim of having it up and running later this year," Helen Clark said.

ENDS



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