The Department of Military Veterans (DMV) has set aside R145 million to assist military veterans and dependents in their studies.
Since the enactment of the Military Veterans Act in 2011, which stipulates the benefits which ought to be provided to military veterans in the 2012/13 financial year, the DMV has provided education support at both basic and higher education levels to 200 military veterans and their dependents.
Speaking on behalf of Deputy Defence and Military Veterans Minister Kebby Maphatsoe at a two-day workshop on education beneficiary support for military veterans, the department’s Director-General Tsepe Motumi said education was a powerful weapon for individuals to unleash their full potential.
Motumi said the number of military veterans who are receiving education support from the department has tripled in 2013/14 financial year to 645.
The department has spent R15 million assisting military veterans and their dependents.
For the 2015/16 financial year, the department has received a total of 1 700 applications, with 1 000 for higher education and 700 for basic education.
“We are excited to note there is an increasing realisation that the issue of resolving the socio-economic and educational needs of all military veterans is everybody’s business,” Motumi said.
Pitso Hlasa, former commander of the Azanla Forces, whose daughter is benefiting from the Education Support programme, said he was pleased with the programme. “What the department is doing is good.”
Hlasa left the country in 1986 and was in exile in various countries. He returned to SA in 1994. His daughter Tumelo started benefitting from the programme this year and she is Grade 10.
Earlier this year, the Department of Military Veterans gazetted the Military Veterans Benefits Regulations (MVBR) in Section 5 of the Military Veterans Act, stipulating clear guidelines for the roll-out of benefits as prescribed in the regulations gazette.
Military veterans now have access to benefits such as housing, health, education, burial support and pensions. Other benefits include job creation and placements as well as business support.
The department has to date distributed more than 5 000 medical healthcare cards and provided burial support to almost 500 military veterans who died destitute.
The department has also reached an agreement with the Department of Social Development to utilise the capacity and capability of South African Social Security Agency to accelerate delivery of pensions to military veterans.
The roll out of military veterans’ pensions will start in January 2015.