Sunday, August 13, 2017


Yesterday a much respected Vietnam veteran (NCO) dropped by our place.   He was returning from Whangarei where Professor Ron Paterson, the person appointed to head the review into the Veteran's Support Act 2104, had been conducting a workshop into how the Act might be improved.

To say that my friend was disappointed in the meeting would be an understatement.   He said the Professor was met with a barrage of abuse, none of it constructive.   My assessment is that most veterans are happy to get on with their lives and are grateful for the additional assistance available to them from Veterans' Affairs New Zealand (VANZ) ...  acknowledging that of course, VANZ can always do better.    A small minority believe that each and every ill that has ever befallen them is directly attributable to their military service and that they deserve to be compensated for those setbacks in life with lotto style numbers.    They were the ones who dominated the meeting.

It is unfortunate that the vocal minority steals the limelight.   In some respects veterans are their own worst enemies in attempting to overplay their hand.   My informant said that he asked the Professor what he had learned from the meeting.   His reply ... "not much".    Sad, really sad.


Anonymous said...

I view it as chickens coming home to roost. It was the senior ex officers during the first veterans health enquiry that encouraged veterans to believe that there was a pot of gold at the end of the orange rainbow. When I asked about the likelihood of this happening the ex officer in question tapped the side of his nose and winked.

It was a huge disappointment to some people as they had kept their side of the bargain by telling the world how badly they had been treated and that Agent Orange had rendered them impotent and rotted their socks even though they were never near a spray zone.

Many have never accepted that they are owed nothing and are taking it out on the system.

Lord Egbut

The Veteran said...

Egbut ... well I certainly didn't and I don't know of anyone that did. It would have been foolish to say that. But this has nothing to do with the Agent Orange. The review is how an existing Act can be improved and abuse and over the top rhetoric just doesn't work. MPs from all Parties will tell you that elements from the veteran community are among the worst of the constituents they have to deal with.

If you want to be entertained go read some of the 'evidence' presented to the Waitangi Tribunal in the so called Maori Veterans Kaupapa Inquiry.

NZ is rort with entitlementitis.

Noel said...

I'm surprised my fellow Veterans haven't wised up.
What with the Reeves Winteringham and Palmer roadshows of the past with the President of the RNZRSA deflecting discussion on the RMASOPs at the Palmer they wouldn't bother to show.

Noel said...

I should have added please stop rabbiting on about the Waitangi thingy.
The credibility of the evidence was no different to what I observed at the Reeves and read in the submissions to the SHC.

Gerald said...

Hold up Noel there was the "Masters Map" as proof of defoliation at the SHC.
Would make a great Tui advert now that the truth is out.

Noel said...

Deception goes back further than that. Australian Army/Peck/Sinclair,take your pick of title was availble since 1982. Can't believe it wasn't picked up by some ex Vietnam officer although its clear it was never given to any investigation.

The Veteran said...

These comments are, in the main, disappointing and reinforce my view that in many respects veterans are their own worst enemy. This review is mandated in the Act. It has nothing to do with the Reeves Inquiry which was a dud and very little to do with Agent Orange per se. Vietnam veterans constitute only about 4% of the estimated 50,000 veterans. This is about all of us. It's about an Act that has been in operation for three years and our chance to say what's working, what's not and to suggest changes. We get one chance, this is it, blow it and I doubt we'll get another anytime soon.

Those who choose to sit on the sidelines and snipe forfeit their right to criticise.

Noel said...

Well I'm not sniping. My submission was sent to the Professor direct some time ago.

Shelldrake said...

Took your advice and looked at some of the Evidence presented to the Tribunal. Without any cross examination it seem that anything goes. My god I read some amazing stories. Do these guys really believe that anything they say will be accepted without question.

You are right. They are their own worst enemies.

Bloody embarassing

Gerald said...

Directly. You don't trust the proceess do you.
Not surprising.

Anonymous said... look up the transcripts of the select committee health enquiry and the travelling road show. You can see the correlation between the that and the Waitangi tribunal. People exaggerating, lying and generally making things up in the hope of compensation. The difference is that the encouragement and acceptance of these far fetched stories comes from lawyers and not senior ex officers.

Don't blame the soldiers, they are reacting to events and encouragement. The lawyers are making a nice living out of Waitangi hearings and all the ex officers landed committee jobs and the same faces kept appearing for years afterwards on Govt panels.... paid of course. all of the thousands of emails from that period I cannot find one where one of the "team" of officers discouraged the thought of individual compensation...they actively encouraged the thought and their acceptance of "evidence" they knew was wrong has led directly to your post..........chickens coming home to roost. We are the authors of our own misfortune.

Lord Egbut

Noel said...

While negotiation were been conducted with the Government it was leaked by a number Dominion Post reporter that all veterans were getting 40,000.
He wouldn't tell me if his claim was factual. It was a couple of weeks later that Minister posted that there would be no universal compensation.
No comment at all from the veteran negotiators.

Amazing how many today believe all those ungrateful Vietnam veterans were financially compensated.

The Veteran said...

Egbut ... I can agree that much of the blame behind the exaggerated claims made by veterans can be sheeted home to second rate lawyers who have leached off the grievance industry. As to your assertion that no-one from the so called 'team' of officers you refer to discouraged the thought of individual compensation ... well, it's pretty hard to prove a negative.

What I can say as one of the co-authors of the 'Open Letter' to the PM, endorsed by 741 members of the VVet community, and we were at determined not to raise expectations. For the record and, in addition to an apology, we sought:

#1 That Vietnam Veterans be offered free annual medical examinations.

#2 That the results of these medical examinations be copied to Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand (VANZ) with VANZ, in consultation with the Veteran, to initiate action for the award of a War Disablement Pension or review of an existing pension where appropriate.

#3 That the children and grandchildren of Vietnam Veterans suffering from any conditions known to be associated with exposure to aerially delivered herbicides receive an enhanced level of medical support over and above that available to the general public to include full reimbursement of all ‘out-of-pocket’ expenses associated with the condition.

#4 That in assessing the condition of children and grandchildren of Vietnam Veterans they receive the same ‘benefit of doubt’ and ‘reverse onus of proof’ in accepting their condition or disability as applied to servicemen and servicewomen under the War Pensions Act.

#5 That the Reeves Report be rejected as providing a basis for policy action.

#6 That the McLeod Report be rejected as providing a basis for policy action.

#7 That VANZ, in consultation with EVSA, reviews, on a regular basis and not less than annually, the list of diseases and conditions that may have been caused by aerially delivered herbicides during the Vietnam War and updates and extends it whenever international research indicates this is appropriate.

#8 That the positions of Director VANZ and Secretary for War Pensions be held by different persons and determined on a contestable basis.

#1, #2, #5, #6 and #7 were accepted in whole by Government (although #1 was not fully implemented until there was a change of Government). #3 and #4 were accepted in part.
#8 was not accepted.

There is nothing there that could be seen as encouraging a John Frum mentality among Vvets. I don't know of any officers who did.

Noel ... Shouten did the whole VVet community a great disservice with his so called 'leaked' report (if it were a leaked report and not just the ramblings of a journo interviewing his typewriter and repeating gossip).

The Veteran said...

Noel ... Whoops, Hank Schouten.

Anonymous said...

Veteran...your post is for public consumption and does reveal the lengths to which false evidence was approved and expectations raised by those representing us. You asked why the Whangarei meeting was a shambles....I told you.

Please do not deflect attention away to the Waitangi health enquiry are they are doing exactly what pakeha did...lie in order to gain a monetary advantage.

We know when things make uncomfortable reading because of the flurry of inconsequential posts to bury it down the page.....

I can take all the statements made in both enquiries and demolish them one by one to the satisfaction of a court of law.

Lord Egbut.

The Veteran said...

Egbut ... give me a break and I do hope you were not suggesting that I was party to false evidence because, if you are, you and I are going to have a problem. The Open Letter did not canvas the evidence. It presented a way forward and in doing so was deliberately crafted so as to not raise expectations because some out there were talking in lotto type figures.

YOU repeat YOU alleged that 'officers' raised expectations (or at least did not discourage them). I was responding to YOUR assertion with some hard evidence to the contrary. Your response was to accuse me of trying to divert attention away from the substance of MY post. I repeat, give me a break.

Gueesh ... and I had already agreed with you that much of the problem can be sheeted home to second rate lawyers looking to make a buck.

Perhaps I should have included this in my original post but my informant said that some of those at the meeting making the most 'noise' were ex RNZN ... go figure.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy said...

The roadshow is due in my loc on Sep 3rd. The last roadshow I went to was a VANZ one.

There is no way that I will be attending this one as the whinge fest at the VANZ one was bloody shameful and yes, abetted by some ex RNZN wankers: When the 4 Case Managers were introduced one dribbler complained that there were no ex Navy people among them.

Another wanted to discuss a High Court case which about to occur which would have clearly been sub judice.

I agree with Egbut. Much of the terminal derangement is centred around the Agent Orange myth. Those who still promote it and promote to others that their grandchildren are likely to suffer deformities should be publicly fucked for criminal nuisance.

Anonymous said...

Tinker......"They had learned nothing and forgotten nothing” was Talleyrand’s obituary for the Bourbons. Much the same will be said of us.

Lord Egbut

Anonymous said...

Veteran.......if you wish to be party to the select committee submissions and agree that that they are truthful and accurate that's fine. If, on the other hand you agree that all of them including the "dieing before their time" is accurate that is also fine by me. Just a sensible debate on the subject would be good.

Lord Egbut

Noel said...

Tinker if command had used the 1982 report and coupled it with the command diaries they could have quietly gone to those making extravagent claim, as happens with SAS wannabes.

The Veteran said...

Egbut ... you're changing the goalposts yet again. The only submission I stand by is my own. Even with that and fourteen years on there are paragraphs in it that I would now want to revisit. You live and learn. But what others say is their responsibility, not mine. What I do say however is that many of the submissions I've read seem to have been based on emotion rather than fact.

I am aware you hold strong views and that is of course your privilege. Others may disagree with you and that is their privilege too.

I do however take strong exception that you seem to be lumping me in with (unnamed) officers who, you said, raised expectations that Vvets were to receive lotto style payouts. Nothing is further from the truth. In fact I tried to dampen expectations.
You owe me an apology.

Anonymous said...

Veteran......"Seem to be " I'm not so no apology necessary.... As you were not sitting at the top table and worked on the sidelines any dampening you did was unnoticeable. There are 100's of emails on the vets net of that period talking about compensation but not one from the top discouraging the expectation. Without the carrot of compo I doubt that the people making the "woe is us" statements would have been quite as enthusiastic.

On top of that it was the senior officers acceptance and instigation of junk science that leads directly to some of the rank and file genuinely believing their health has been affected by AO which in turn leads to the Whangarei shambles.

Tinker nailed it.....he has more experience on the ground with veterans than either of us.

Lord Egbut

The Veteran said...

Egbut ... Ok, your non apology accepted. One other thing in closing. A second person attending the Whangarei hearing reported that a veteran took umbrage to the fact that the workshop wasn't conducted in Te Reo; that Professor P couldn't understand Te Reo and that therefore he was prevented from telling his story they way he wanted it told. Tosh.

The hearings are not about stories. They are about how an Act can be approved. If some veterans are intent on highjacking the hearings to indulge in personal bitch sessions then more fool them. Constructive comment beats bitching hands down. Knowing what I know I wouldn't have accepted Paterson's job if 'they' had begged me on bended knee.

Noel said...

Manurewa RSA Roadshow from Gunners site

Report on Ron Paterson VSA meeting attended by Barry Dreyer and Greg Thwaite
Thursday, 17 August, 2017
Report On Consultation In The Review Under S. 282 Of The Veterans’ Support Act 2014
Manurewa RSA
9 August 2017

Barry Dreyer and Greg Thwaite participated in the Consultation conducted by Prof. Ron Paterson. About 40 veterans attended.

Based on our observation of the meeting and our assessment of Prof. Paterson, we encourage Gunners to make a statement to him about their views on veterans’ affairs.

The Veterans’ Support Act 2014 requires a review of the Act’s operation after 2 years. Prof. Paterson is conducting that review. Submissions can be sent to him at, or mailed to him at Private Bag 39997, Wellington MC 5045. The deadline is 15 September.

His review period runs to December, when he will deliver a report to the Chief of Defence. He emphasised his independence. The results of his review will be presented to Parliament.

Prof. Paterson is a lawyer by profession. (He and Greg Thwaite were in the same class at the Auckland Law School). He is a Professor of Law at the University of Auckland. He has been an Ombudsman, and served for 10 years as the Health & Disability Commissioner, where he was charged with investigating complaints against hospitals, rest homes, doctors, and pharmacies.

Prof. Paterson was open, candid, respectful, and attentive. He explained that the meeting in Manurewa was the first of a road show, and he was in the initial phase of finding out what veterans think. He summarised what each veteran said to him, so as to assist in keeping a record of what was said, and to show that he had genuinely heard what had been said.

The veterans were blunt in their comments. A number described the experiences of others.

Important topics raised by veterans included:
• the occurrence of PTSD, particularly among recent veterans e.g. from Afghanistan
• the unnecessary complexity of Government documentation
• the pettiness of the bureaucracy
• the frustration of veterans in dealing with VANZ
• the delay in acceptance of claims
• suicide
• the need for speed when a veteran seeks help
• the need for 24 hour availability of counselling and material assistance for veterans in need
• the effect of a criminal conviction, which might cancel benefits for the veteran’s children
• VANZ’s inadequate communication, which needs to be improved by face-to-face contact
• the importance of a holistic approach when dealing with a veteran’s individual injuries
• the definition of veteran, and of operational service, particularly for soldiers who served overseas but not in a combat zone
• the exposure of sailors to French nuclear testing
• the impact on women in the families of veterans.

Barry Dreyer Greg Thwaite