W3 Company - Contacts and Assistance  Whakapā mai

 

information about war disablement pensions and disabilities presumed to be attributable to service

Evan Torrance - W3 Officer Commanding
Palmerston North

Bruce Young - website developer/administrator
and contribution editor
Lincoln near Christchurch


 

Medical Conditions and Veterans Pensions and Other Support

Veterans Pension - Have you been taking your Paludrine lately..?  Remember how the anti-malarial tablets were available freely to help individuals avoid malaria, left in tins on the mess table, shoved down your throat by the platoon sergeant etc..?  So if an individual failed to take Paludrine daily he was thought of by others as irresponsible.  What's my point..?  Like Paludrine, the veterans pension is also available freely to help individuals alleviate the effects of their operational tour.  If you are not receiving it to some degree then you are also irresponsible. 

There are several arguments raised by the irresponsible veteran:  'there are others worse off than me, let them have the money' is the most common.  Another is to say 'this pain is old age, not attributable to my time as a young soldier in Vietnam'.  The ultimate argument might be:  'I don't need the money'.  Then use it to shout your grand-children an awesome experience, or upgrade your car.

Lets look at some facts:  [1] There is plenty of money in the veterans budget for all of us, so you going without won't mean someone else is allocated more money.  Under the War Pensions Act an individual veteran can only be allocated a finite sum for their disabilities.  [2] Your spouse can also benefit long-term from your WDP if you reach a certain level of disability.  [3] Many problems in old age can be traced back to activity as a young soldier, such as PTSD, worn discs in your back, skin cancers, smoking related issues.

So how do you reconcile your arguments with the facts..?  Simple really.  When you apply for a veterans pension you ask a panel a question, 'is my ailment attributable to my service in Vietnam..?'  The panel ask specialists to review the issue and then make a decision.  If they say 'no' then you have your answer, but if they say 'yes' then you receive some additional income and better still some long-term assistance with medical treatment.  You can then choose another ailment and ask the question again.  The number of ailments accepted increases your 'percentage' of disability.  The preferred outcome of the process is to receive a combination of decisions that add up to more than 70% disability [WDP].  At this level you are better off at 65 than receiving national superannuation.  And your spouse also receives better treatment because when you depart on your next posting they will continue to receive 50% of what you were receiving.  Tell them they are not worth it...!

UPDATED 2015:  Following the passage of the Veterans Support Act 2014 there are some changes to how existing or new conditions are administered - read this article for information on these changes - this letter for another potential change, and this response to concerns on the impact of the changes.

The process starts with a phone call to Veterans Affairs New Zealand 0800 553 003 if you are in New Zealand, or ++64 9 985 1070 if you are calling from overseas (but you pay for the call).  Part of the process is registration as a veteran.  There are spouses that are unhappy their irresponsible veteran has not registered himself and his family as part of the veteran community.  Registration costs nothing but could lead to long-term benefits.  The good news ladies, is that you can do it yourself.  The forms are available on-line here, there are different forms for veterans [even if deceased], spouses, children and grand-children.

Assistance with Veteran Pensions.  Any queries on how to obtain a veterans pension or on what constitutes a condition for a veterans pension can be directed to a case manager at Veterans Affairs or to a welfare officer at your nearest RSA.

Disabilities presumed to be attributable to service
If you have been diagnosed as having one of the disabilities which appear on a list that corresponds with your theatre of service, this disability will be accepted automatically as attributable to your service.

Vietnam Veterans:  If you served in Vietnam between 29 May 1964 and 31 December 1972, with 41 Squadron between 1 January 1973 and 21 April 1975, or were a member of the civilian surgical team at the Qui Nhon Provincial State Hospital Vietnam from December 1963 until March 1975, the following disabilities are presumed to be attributable to service:  [reference]

Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (including hairy-cell leukaemia and other chronic B –Cell leukaemia’s)
Soft tissue sarcoma
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
Hodgkin’s disease
Chloracne
Porphyria cutanea tarda
Multiple myeloma
Respiratory cancers (lung, bronchus, larynx, trachea)
Prostate cancer
Acute and subacute peripheral neuropathy
Type 2 diabetes
Hypertension
AL-type primary amyloidosis
Parkinson’s disease
Ischaemic heart disease
Stroke

Prostate Cancer.  Prostate cancer is one of the long term health effects associated with service in Vietnam. Baden Ewart [NZ Component 1970-71] [click name for email address] has recently been through the operation to remove a cancerous growth in his prostate and is offering support to any other veterans or family who may have questions about the condition, or who have been through the operation and post-op treatment.  His news to sufferers is that caught early enough the condition can be safely treated, and he has been cleared following his procedure.  At this link is a free downloadable book about prostate cancer which Baden recommends, entitled "an Oncologists view of prostate cancer: understanding the facts, sorting through the options 2nd Ed" by Srinivasan Vijayakumar The PDF file is 18Mb so a fast link is recommended.

Hearing Loss Explained [hat tip Bruce Isbister V3 on Vets Net]
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss of Occupational Origin - Guide to Medical Practitioners
This document is sourced from the NZ Department of Labour.  Briefly it describes what happens when you are exposed to loud noise, the effect and degree of loss etc.  There are tables you can use to calculate your own loss if you have access to audiograms.  Note that for hearing purposes, age related degeneration is not taken into account until age 57.  If you had infantry or arty exposure as a young man then your hearing is likely already damaged.  Applying for a hearing loss pension at, say, age 60, there is a formula for this on the pages in this doc.  It is true that hearing loss, like other bodily functions, degenerates with age, but there are prescriptive items that should be considered.  There are also examples of instantaneous loss, rifle fire and so on.  If you ever heard an artillery piece firing nearby there is possibly instant damage because it is so loud.  150Db is very loud... Can anyone tell me if there was EVER a Kiwi company that didn't go to a FSPB or travel with mortars and tanks which also have big bangs right next to you?  MG and rifle fire is cumulative. Example: You go to the range in the morning and you can hear OK. When you leave your ears are a bit sore inside and ringing. The ringing fades over the next few days. If you have experienced this you have hearing damage.  When you are in contact the same thing happens esp. with bunkers and grenades going off near you. When you did hot landings and the MG on the choppers were banging away about 2 feet from your head you were ringing before reaching the ground.  If you were lying in ambush and multiple claymores were fired at once they were a bit head spinning as well.

Summary.  Eventually you get to a stage where the ringing continues forever.  It doesn't usually get better.  Read widely and know what you are on about and don't lose your entitlements because of some clerical or policy decision.  Information, understanding and assistance with claims is beneficial to your case.  Don't trust to luck or expect your entitlements to fall your way because of the promises your government made to you 40+ years ago.

End of Tour Checklist
There are useful end of tour checklists at this link.  There is always someone to assist veterans, their spouses and family on entitlements, grants, pensions, good advice, a veteran never needs to feel alone.  A beer at or call to the local RSA is a good start.