Veterans’ Conditions Deplorable

AN ANNUAL report presented in parliament by the Minister of Veterans’ Affairs last week paints an ugly picture of the former fighters’ deplorable living conditions, financial misuse, neglect by families and mental health problems.

The report for 2012-2013 was compiled from information gathered during random visits by the veterans’ affairs ministry to eight veterans living with disabilities and mental problems throughout the country.

According to the report that was tabled by veterans’ minister Nickey Iyambo, there is rampant misuse of the financial assistance given to the veterans and that some are being neglected by their families.

“The visits confirmed the complaints that they were living under deplorable conditions and that the financial assistance of some veterans was misused by family members including their own children,” said the report.

Some veterans living with mental problems, according to the report, distrust government institutions which offer counselling because they do not trust sharing their problems.

The ministry runs a psychosocial support programme for veterans who are traumatised by the effects of the war and are thus afforded the opportunity to access counseling. However, according to the report, veterans have not been making use of this opportunity.

“Despite this exercise, no single veteran has come forward disclosing his or her problem and willingness to be counselled. In fact, some have indicated that they are not comfortable disclosing their problems to people they do not know well,” the report said.

This is not the only obstacle the ministry faces in addressing challenges faced by the veterans. Iyambo revealed two months ago that veterans were becoming too picky by preferring private health services over free public services.

“People are demanding. They claim they are not being treated well, nurses are rude, doctors don’t come. It has created a problem as if we are going to create facilities only for veterans,” he said in parliament.

Another programme that has attracted interest is the introduction of individual projects for war veterans which are aimed at enabling them to join the mainstream economy.

The ministry received 7 000 applications for individual projects but only 242 in sectors such as agriculture, property development and transport were selected for funding, an exercise that cost N$45 million.

The report, however, revealed that there is no monitoring and evaluation of the projects that were funded due to lack of manpower in the ministry and limited funds.

“A consultant was appointed to develop a film on the successful projects that can be aired on the national TV to show the nation and fellow veterans in particular the progress made by those that have already implemented their projects.”

A pie chart shows that Omusati, Khomas, Oshana, Oshikoto, Ohangwena are the top five beneficiaries of this programme with close to two thirds of the N$45 million going to those regions.

Another aspect of the report is the construction of veteran houses. Statistics show that 46 houses were built in that financial year. Most of the beneficiaries were from Ohangwena and Omusati with 10 and 11 houses respectively.

The same report said the ministry received over 1 000 applications for veterans to study but only 123 applicants (among them two PhD students) were approved to study at tertiary institutions during the 2012 academic year.

Source : The Namibian