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Medical checks for Viet Nam veterans

Hon Rick Barker
Minister of Veterans’ Affairs

21 April 2008 Media Statement

Free one off medical checks for Viet Nam veterans one step closer

The process for the free one off medical checks for Viet Nam veterans is now in the final trial stages and Veterans Affairs New Zealand will start sending information about how to access the checks to registered veterans in the next few weeks.

Veterans' Affairs Minister, Rick Barker visited Ranfurly Veterans' Home and Hospital in Auckland today to make the announcement and meet with Viet Nam veterans.

"The medical check is a key part of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), signed in 2006 with the veterans' organisations the Ex-Vietnam Services Association and Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association," Mr Barker said.

"This government is committed to ensuring the services delivered to veterans are of the highest standard and that our duty of care to them is maintained. It is recognised that Viet Nam veterans were exposed to and continue to be affected by a toxic environment and these one off medical checks will help identify the effect of service on individual veterans. Veterans will go to their regular doctor for the assessment.

"Veterans will go to their regular doctor for the assessment and once they have done so the information will be sent to a Medical Audit Team for review. The Medical Audit Team will be made up of specialist doctors from Veterans' Hospitals.

"The audit process is designed to ensure that the GPs understand the toxic environment the veterans were exposed to and it will also help provide a fuller picture of the overall health and wellbeing of Viet Nam veterans as a group.

"If the medical assessment uncovers conditions that mean the veteran is eligible for a War Disablement Pension, this information can be used in the application process. Claims will then be processed by Veterans' Affairs New Zealand.

Veterans' organisations and GPs (through the NZ Medical Association) have been consulted every step of the way, on both the process and the content of the medical assessment itself.

Viet Nam veterans who have registered with Veterans' Affairs New Zealand will soon receive the information pack, advising them how to access the medical assessment. Latest figures show that 4,907 veterans and family members have now registered.

"Making sure that as many Viet Nam veterans as possible register is critical to the effective implementation of the MoU. I would like to take this opportunity to remind all veterans and their families to register," Mr Barker said.

For more information on registering with Veterans' Affairs New Zealand please visit www.veteransaffairs.mil.nz or call 0800 483 8372 (0800 4 VETERAN).

ENDS

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