More veterans to receive health benefits


Another step on the road to providing social and other services to South Africa’s military veterans comes with the continuation of the healthcare cards roll-out starting this week.

The first healthcare cards for use at military hospitals, sickbays and other SA National Defence Force (SANDF) healthcare facilities were handed to veterans by former Defence and Military Veterans Minister Lindiwe Sisulu early last year at an MKMVA conference in Centurion.

The cards are only available to veterans who have provided the Department of Military Veterans with updated personal details for the national veterans’ database, director general Tsepe Motumi said.

The healthcare cards are a part of the social benefits set out in the Military Veterans Act of 2011, which have already seen 4 000 veterans receive the cards. To ensure they receive proper care and treatment the SA Military Health Service has set up special helpdesks for veterans at its facilities.

Motumi said the provision of healthcare cards for veterans was “significant”. This is because many of them had to live with “a myriad of illnesses borne of the conditions under which they operated over many years, including exile, military skirmishes, imprisonment, detention as well as torture”.
“The Act enjoins us to ensure military veterans, especially those from the Non-Statutory Forces (NSF) are treated with dignity, honoured, memorialised and empowered for the sacrifices they made in bringing about freedom and democracy in South Africa as well as enhancing social cohesion and nation building,” he said at a weekend briefing.

Of the 56 505 veterans currently on the national database, 13 768 have provided updated details.

Healthcare cards will be issued to those qualifying in Gauteng on March 12 and 13 in Lenasia and on March 14 and 15 in Gezina, Pretoria. Gauteng’s third issuing point will be Heidelberg on March 26 with Port Elizabeth coming before that on March 19 and East London on March 22.

Elaborating on the work done by the Department of Military Veterans’ in its three year existence to date, Motumi said the “necessary legislative and policy environment” had been enabled to allow for service delivery.
“The Act’s regulations will soon be finalised to ensure speedy movement with implementation of its provisions, including the roll-out of benefits.
“We are now working with StatsSA to speed up cleaning up of the database with the intention of ensuring no veteran or his or her dependents are left out when benefits are rolled out.”

Other benefits provided to veterans in the terms of the 2011 Act include assistance with funerals, the provision of 100 bursaries to veterans and their dependents and a memorandum of understanding entered into with the Department of Environmental Affairs. This will see about 750 jobs go to former soldiers.

According to the Military Veterans Act of 2011, a military veteran is “a South African citizen who rendered military service to any of the military organisations, which were involved on all the sides of South Africa’s liberation war from 1960 to 1994, those who served in the Union Defence Force before 1961, and those who became members of the South African National Defence Force after 1994, and has completed his/her military training and no longer performs military duties, and has not been dishonourably discharged from that military organisation.”