The Department of Military Veterans plans to greatly roll out benefits to military veterans over the next couple of years, with a focus on health care, housing and skills development.
The Department has been allocate R597.6 million in the 2016/17 budget period, R634.7 million for 2017/18 and R673.4 million for 2018/19, according to the latest government budget document.
In 2012/13 there were just 200 “deserving military veterans with access to health care services” but this had grown to 13 923 in 2015/16, with plans to increase to 16 000 in 2018/19.
“The department will also provide ongoing health care support to 16 000 veterans and their dependants by referring them to the appropriate health institutions, reflected in the 28.3 per cent increase in spending in the Health and Wellbeing Support subprogramme over the medium term [by 2018/19]. The subprogramme has a budget of R218.2 million over the medium term,” the veterans budget document reads.
There were only two “deserving military veterans with military housing” in 2013/14, but in the next three budget terms the Department plans to build 1 000 houses a year for military veterans, at a cost of R436.7 million.
Providing training and skills development to military veterans is an important part of the Department’s mandate of providing socioeconomic support to military veterans and their dependents. 1 270 veterans were given access to skills and training in 2013/14, rising to 2 450 the following year. The Department plans to increase this to 5 000 in 2018/19.
R83.6 million has been allocated for bursaries over the medium term. “A memorandum of understanding with the National Student Financial Aid Scheme and the Department of Basic Education will assist the department to provide access to education opportunities, such as the schooling of children up to grade 12, and tertiary education,” according to the military veterans budget.
It is the department’s goal that 5 000 eligible military veterans and their dependants across the country are provided with ongoing education support by 2018/19.
Partnering with private institutions is also high on the Department’s agenda, with the number of partnerships a year set to grow from 13 in 2013/14 to 60 by 2018/19.
“Training and skills development, such as driver training programmes, will be delivered to 12 500 veterans and their dependants over the medium term, and the department will form partnerships with 180 private sector companies and organs of state to facilitate employment for veterans. R317.3 million has been budgeted for training and skills development in the Empowerment and Stakeholder Management programme. Training and skills development focus on short courses and hard skills offered through accredited service providers.”
Regarding memorials, the Department plans to erect four in 2015/16; two the following year, another two in 2017/18 and three in 2018/19.
“Recognising the role that military veterans played in the democratisation of South Africa…over the medium term, the Department of Military Veterans will focus on delivering benefits to veterans and their dependants, including access to health care, housing, and education opportunities. The bulk of the department’s budget over this period therefore goes to the Socio Economic Support and Empowerment and Stakeholder Management programmes. The aim of the benefits is to empower veterans in a range of ways,” the veterans department noted.