Military veterans getting free services


South African military veterans are getting access to a range of free services, including healthcare, education support, skills development and housing, according to the Department of Military Veterans.

DMV spokesperson Mbulelo Musi made the announcement on Youth Day yesterday in honour of the youth of 1976 and the 38th anniversary of the Soweto Uprising. On 16 June 1976, a group of schoolchildren set off from Morris Isaacson High School in Orlando, Soweto, to protest against Afrikaans being their medium of instruction. The ensuing protests in Soweto are now commemorated as Youth Day.

Musi said the benefits afforded to veterans include access to free health care services, education support for them and their dependants, business support, creation of job opportunities, skills development as well as the provision of decent houses.

Musi congratulated the thousands of military veterans who “took the bull by its horns” over the last 40 years. “They took brave steps to swell the ranks of the armed wings of the liberation movements such as Umkhonto we Sizwe and the Azanian People’s Liberation Army,” he said.

Military veterans have since February this year been getting access to benefits including housing, health, education, burial support and pensions after the Military Veterans Benefits Regulations (MVBR) were gazetted in Section 5 of the Military Veterans Act, stipulating guidelines for the roll-out of benefits.

DMV Director-General Tsepe Motumi earlier this year said the benefits will be rolled out in strategic spending of the R300 million that the National Treasury has allocated to the department. Motumi said R72 million has been allocated for the provision of 505 houses to military veterans in the current financial cycle.

Between October and December last year the DMV staged road shows in all nine provinces with 5 000 medical healthcare cards distributed to military veterans. The cards enable veterans to get free medical care at any medical facility of the SA Medical Health Service (SAMHS) of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF).

On education, Motumi said during the previous academic year, 100 bursaries at a cost of R2 million were provided to military veterans at both basic and tertiary education level. This figure has been doubled for the 2014/15 academic year.
“200 bursaries have been provided to military veterans and R6 million has been allocated to ensure that books, laptops and other education materials necessary for military veterans and their dependents to study are also provided,” he said.

To date, the DMV has provided burial support to almost 500 military veterans who died destitute. Before gazetting of the MVBRs, R10 000 was provided to families of military veterans for burial support. Following publication of the gazette, this amount has been increased to R25 000 as well as the provision of a coffin.

Well over a thousand military veterans have been assisted in accessing job opportunities through memoranda of understanding entered into with the departments of Water and Environmental Affairs, Rural Development and Land Affairs, Agriculture as well as other state entities.