Some of the veterans who receive services from Veterans’ Affairs may still be in the New Zealand Defence Force, while others will have moved on to start new lives. Many made sacrifices to help keep New Zealand free and safe; and some were injured or made ill through their service.
At Veterans’ Affairs, we’ve been managing delivery of support since 1999. This rehabilitation strategy marks a change in the way we go about our business. It was heralded by the passing of the Veterans’ Support Act in 2014. The new Act replaced the War Pensions Act of 1954 which had emphasised financial support or pensions as a way of recognising service. The new legislation made it possible to focus on offering rehabilitation—and this can help to change lives.
The new approach is designed to give practical support and assistance to the men and women who need it, so they can be well and independent, and achieve the best that they can for themselves, their whānau, and their communities.
The strategy puts the veteran at its centre; but it also recognises that it cannot focus on that person alone. Each veteran is part of a social setting or group, and these may be many and varied. They include blood-related or blended families; the wider whānau or community; a partnership; or one or more friends. Or the social group might be, as it often is in the military, a group of workmates who have shared experiences, and who know and care about each other. The strategy recognises that strong and caring support networks are vital to any rehabilitation programme. It also recognises that a service-related injury or illness can have effects which go beyond the veterans themselves. Families or others who can support the veteran and help their recovery and the rebuilding of their lives, may themselves need support to do so.
Veterans’ Affairs is not a service provider. Instead, we facilitate the provision of services by others. We work alongside a number of government agencies and non-government organisations to achieve the best possible results. Not everyone can offer everything; and one provider might be more appropriate for a particular case than another. Clear signposting, directing veterans and their families to where help can be found, is part of the strategy.
Some key initiatives have been developed from our strategy. They focus on rehabilitating and supporting veterans to recover and rebuild from service-related injuries or illness.
The approach is holistic. It needs and uses knowledge and skills available throughout the community, and in a number of organisations. It encourages working together in strong partnerships, and using new approaches.
The aim is to provide seamless and effective support for veterans that will improve their health and well-being. In this roadmap, we set out the areas we’ll focus on, and the actions we’ll be taking take to make the strategy real and effective for the men and women who need the support that it offers.