12 Jul 2011

Minister supports more funding for veterans' trips

7:37 pm on 12 July 2011

Defence Minister Wayne Mapp says the Government needs to do more to help war veterans wanting to take part in future commemorations overseas.

Australian veterans were flown over to Crete by their government and cared for as guests of honour during the 70th anniversary of the battle in May.

Dr Mapp says the level of support New Zealand veterans received was not enough and the Government needs to take a lesson from Australia.

The minister is retiring from politics after the next election and will recommend that veterans receive funding for air fares and accommodation. However, the final decision rests with the Government.

Major-General Sandy Thomas went public earlier this year after the Government declined to help fund his trip to Crete.

The 92-year-old ultimately received assistance, and others who had already been granted one-off Veterans Affairs grants of $2000 were allowed to apply again.

General Thomas says it is appropriate that bigger grants should be provided for significant occasions. He says he was very grateful for the assistance and loved the trip.

Returned and Services' Association national president Don McIvor also applauds the move. Mr McIvor says it is clear as veterans get older and travel becomes more difficult, funding policies need to be reviewed.

Dr Mapp received $26,000 for flights and accommodation for himself and a private secretary to attend commemorations in Crete.