Dutch MPs probe army veterans' compensation
Parliament wants Defence Minister Hans Hillen to provide clarity about compensation for a group of army veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD as a result of foreign missions.
Paying this ‘debt of honour’ would cost at least 110 million euros, money the minister claims he does not have. The defence ministry was supposed to be looking over the last few months for a solution to the issue.
During Monday’s annual debate on veteran policy Mr Hillen, who spoke of a national debt of honour, said he was still trying to find the money. Hundreds of veterans have filed lawsuits – some of which have already lasted a number of years - against the defence ministry in an attempt to force it to pay compensation.
In the summer of last year, mediation by the National Ombudsman resulted in a special scheme for all the veterans. However, to the outrage of the military unions and most other parties involved, the scheme has yet to be put into effect because there is no money.
The scheme covers about 2,000 people who prior to 1 July 2007 served in missions to a number of countries including Bosnia, Lebanon, Korea, Cambodia and the former Dutch possession of Papua New Guinea the present-day Indonesian province of Papua.
In uniform? Minister Hillen also told MPs that there should be a "revaluation of the uniform". However, he said he did not support a Freedom Party PVV proposal which would oblige soldiers to wear their uniforms in public, but added that he was in favour of soldiers becoming more visible in society.
Earlier, PVV MP Marcial Hernandez argued that the ministry should raise the profile of the armed forces in society by holding parades, awarding medals in public and making it compulsory for soldiers to wear their uniform when travelling on public transport.
According to the minister, the Dutch armed forces are soldiers one can be proud of. Mr Hillen also said he would like soldiers appearing on television shows to wear their uniform, because “it adds something to their presence.”
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