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RNZRSA disappointed as veterans left without support

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SUPPORT | VETERANS | 2024-03-20

Last week’s announcement that Veterans’ Affairs were suspending entitlements to Veterans Independence Programme (VIP) services has left elderly veterans scrambling for support.  

Immediately following the announcement the RSA wrote to the Minister seeking an urgent review of the decision. The Minister met with the leadership of the RSA yesterday and made it clear that while he would not order a review, the RSA was invited to submit options for how they could support Veterans’ Affairs with service delivery.

The RNZRSA’s General Manager Support Services, Andrew Brown, said the decision not to review the suspension of VIP services is incredibly disappointing.

“We knew when the announcement was made that we would be inundated with calls from veterans, some of whom had been waiting for up to two years, for support that has now evaporated.

Over the last couple of years as we watched the wait times increasing, we made a number of offers to Veterans’ Affairs to assist them with service delivery. It’s frustrating that they are citing workforce issues as the reason for suspending VIP services, when that is exactly the kind of service we could already have been assisting them with,” said Andrew.

“There are many options available to Veterans’ Affairs to reduce the wait times for processing applications that don't require simply cutting the services available to veterans. For example, the application process for any veteran seeking support is overly bureaucratic and their case management model is cumbersome and inefficient – improvements in both these areas will have far greater impact on wait times, while ensuring our veterans continue to receive the support they are entitled to,” said Andrew.

The RNZRSA believes that simply reallocating the small workforce that previously dealt with VIP services to process the significant backlog of other applications is no plan, and it’s time for the Government to adequately resource Veterans’ Affairs so it can deliver the services the legislation requires it to.

“More work is needed to resolve the problem, but we welcome the opportunity raised by the Minister for the RNZRSA to work more closely with Veterans’ Affairs.

We want to be part of the solution that sees New Zealand’s veterans more easily accessing the support they are entitled to – without having to wait years for their claims to be considered. But it’s clear that there needs to be significant organizational change within Veterans’ Affairs if there is any hope of improving the support available to veterans in the long term.”

The RNZRSA is preparing a range of options to submit to the Minister for services they can assist with under a contracted arrangement. In the meantime, their support network has already moved to ensure it can navigate veterans through to other agencies to access the support they need.

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