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National honours veterans' contribution

Judith Collins MP
National Party Veterans' Affairs Spokeswoman

7 October 2008

National honours veterans' contribution

National's Veterans policy recognises the special status of our war veterans and reflects our belief that more should be done to honour their contribution to our peace, security, freedoms, and democracy, says the party's Veterans' Affairs spokeswoman, Judith Collins.

"National understands the needs of the country's aging veterans and we will provide greater recognition and assistance in areas that they themselves have identified."


National will:

* Extend eligibility for the Veterans' Gold Card to all veterans with qualifying operational service, and look to enhance the benefits available to holders of the card. * Establish a New Zealand Defence medal recognising service in both the regular and non-regular services. * Support the review of the War Pensions Act to revamp and simplify the pension system. * Provide ongoing financial support to the three dedicated Veterans' Homes. * Increase the allowance for gallantry decoration holders to $30 per week, include the New Zealand awards since 1999, and remove the requirement for recipients to be receiving a War Disablement Pension.

"National will focus on the healthcare needs of veterans and their families. We initiated the Health Select Committee inquiry into the use and effects of Agent Orange in 2003 in a bid to resolve long-standing health issues for Vietnam veterans. Labour's response was criticised by the Vietnam veteran community as inadequate. A number of significant recommendations were not picked up by the Government.

"The select committee inquiry recommended that veterans have access to free annual medical assessments. National will adopt that recommendation."

National will:

* Endorse the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Vietnam veterans, the RSA, and the Crown as providing the basis for settlement of the Agent Orange issue.

* Provide Vietnam veterans with free annual comprehensive medical assessments.

* Support the commitment in the MoU to an ongoing review of international research relating to the effects of exposure to Agent Orange to ensure the establishment list of Agent Orange-related illnesses is updated on a regular basis.

* Support the MoU's commitment to the consideration of future programmes for the children and grandchildren of Vietnam veterans.

"National greatly values the contribution veterans have made to their country. We are committed to listening to their needs and providing them with greater recognition and assistance."

Ends

For National's full Veterans policy visit: http://national.org.nz/files/2008/veterans.pdf


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