Parliament wants clarity on compensation for military veterans

21st June 2011, Comments 0 comments

Parliament wants Defence Minister Hans Hillen to provide clarity about compensation for a group of veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD.

Paying this ‘debt of honour’ would cost at least 110 million euros, money the minister claimed he did not have. In the past few months, the defence ministry was supposed to look for a solution to the issue.

During Monday’s annual debate on veteran policy Minister Hillen, who spoke of a national debt of honour, said he was still looking for the money. The veterans in question are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as the result of foreign missions.

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 involved. However, to the outrage of the military unions and most other parties involved, the scheme is 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 parliament, Minister Hillen argued for a revaluation of the uniform. He said he did not support a Freedom Party proposal which would obligate soldiers to always wear their uniforms in public, but added that he was in favour of soldiers becoming more visible in society.

Earlier, Freedom Party 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 obligating soldiers to wear their uniform when travelling on public transport.

According to the minister, Dutch soldiers 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.”

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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