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Collapse Issue 414 - 06 Mar 2017Issue 414 - 06 Mar 2017
Collapse  NEWS NEWS
Fast ferry service proposal presented to Premier
Centenarians celebrate birthdays
Gosford by-election to be held on April 8
'Beautiful opportunity' for Liesl Tesch
Woy Woy channel 'worse than halftide rocks'
Memorial erected to lone dolphin
Petrol prices skyrocket to 13 cents more than Gosford
Power interrupted with thunderstorms
Association writes to Premier about jetskis
Council to spend $1 million on Peninsula
Vietnam Vets plan to expand its Ettalong office
Film proceeds donated to Mary Mac's
Senator congratulates Tesch as Labor candidate
Labor candidate selection 'undemocratic', says Crouch
Chamber calls for Liberals to select local candidate
Environment network seeks volunteers
Residents' group opposes home park expansion
Talk about kayak journey inspired by Killcare resident
A week of activities for seniors
Community fair at Hardys Bay
President's position not filled
New set down and pick up area
Attorney-General asked about court closure
Chamber welcomes penalty rate cuts
Pedestrian injured in motorcycle accident
Umina man to face court
Council holds developers' forum
Rotary club recognised at Parliament House
New restaurant opens
Business decision pays off
Collapse  FORUM FORUM
Elections must go ahead
Action needed on fuel price fixing
Less opportunity with penalty rate cuts
Rail crossing missing link needs funding
Back to square one
Party heavyweights won't change vote
Don't re-elect Gosford councillors
Traffic blind spots need correction
Collapse  HEALTH HEALTH
Sod turned for hospital redevelopment
Wicks speaks about Peninsula GP shortage
GP 'emergency' a political stunt, says O'Neill
Collapse  ARTS ARTS
Williamson play at Little Theatre
George Mann to perform at folk club
Umina singer cast in opera
Collapse  EDUCATION EDUCATION
School writes to the Council
Kaelan is ACT judo champion
Attention to helmets at Umina
Three students set 10 records
Principal describes school's targets
New sports attire
Push bike donated as prize
Reading Buddies program runs in libraries
Goalball team to be selected
Performing arts groups formed
Softball session at Pretty Beach
School holds swimming carnival
Writers' workshops at lunch time
Collapse  SPORT SPORT
Surf clubs each receive almost $10,000
Umina launches new surf boat
Heat interrupts pairs championship
Ocean Beach returns from carnival
Roosters have first hit-out
Charity bowls attracts 50 players
Ettalong dominates Triples finals

Vietnam Vets plan to expand its Ettalong office

The Vietnam Veterans', Peacekeepers' and Peacemakers' Association plans to expand its office space at Ettalong so it can assist more people.

Branch president Dr Steve Karsai said he believed there were up to 3000 veterans living on the Peninsula.

The Vietnam veterans now range in age from 67 to 90 but the Peninsula is also home to an increasing number of younger men and women who have done their service in Afghanistan and Iraq and cannot afford to buy homes in Sydney.

Dr Karsai said homelessness and Veterans' Affairs over-payments resulting in debts were just two of the many issues the Association helped local veterans to deal with.

The association is currently aware of eight homeless veterans in the local community, most suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, which makes it difficult for them to hold down a steady job and limits their housing options.

Navigating the complicated legislation that determines veteran entitlements also presents many challenges for ex-armed services personnel.

Three Acts of Parliament cover veterans: the 1988 Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act, the 1986 Veterans' Entitlements Act and the 2004 Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act.

Veterans can end up with debts if they double-dip, Dr Karsai said.

"We have spoken with the Member for Robertson, Ms Lucy Wicks, and presented a petition to Mr Tony Abbott when he was Prime Minister," Dr Karsai said.

The newest of the three pieces of law was supposed to separate civilian and military compensation and rehabilitation to reflect the unique circumstances that are born out of military service.

"The new Act may put veterans behind the eight ball because the old Act focused on getting the veteran better including a pension for life that was a non-taxable income as well as treatment and rehabilitation in the form of a Gold Card," he said.

"Under the 2004 version they can still get the treatment but it is hard for them to get up to the gold card status.

"They get a white card for treatment of a specific condition but the condition keeps having to be reassessed."

According to Dr Karsai, veterans who've accidentally been paid under the 1986 and 2004 Acts have ended up with debts from $1200 up to $190,000.

"I had one veteran with school age children who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan who had to sell his house in Umina and move further north to find a house he could afford after he had paid back the debt."

The Association now has four volunteer team members working on claims under the various acts for veterans, war widows and overseas claims.

"Claims used to take 10 weeks but now they can take up to five years," Dr Karsai said.

All claims must now go through Veterans' Affairs' Melbourne office before being farmed out to other offices.

Claims get lost.

DVA personnel do not necessarily understand the unique circumstances of individuals who have done military service, Dr Karsai said.

"There is no such thing as an automatic entitlement for veterans but even if documents are provided from the individual's military file from the time they incurred their injury, when they were still in the service, they will still be required to go to a doctor and specialists to prove the injury.

"I have seen men with PTSD and in agony from their injuries forced to go through examinations even if there is clear evidence of their claims.

"Then the Department of Veterans' Affairs may decide not to take any notice of the specialist and the veteran will be sent to a doctor who has never seen them before, spends 20 minutes with them, doesn't listen to what they say and then rejects their claim.

"I currently have three local people going through veterans' review boards and administrative claims tribunals to fight their claims decisions."

The number of veterans in need of claims assistance on the Peninsula is growing and getting younger.

"A lot of them are suffering and don't trust the RSL and they are put off by our name but we are there to help with their pensions and their welfare.

"We had two offices that had to be shared by volunteers but now we have four very spacious offices which means our volunteers have space to help clients privately and take more time with them," he said.

Office hours are Monday and Wednesday from 9:30 am to 1:30pm and the Association can be contacted on 4344 4760.

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