Military Veterans Bill on the cards

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pretoria - The public has been encouraged to comment on the draft Military Veterans Bill, which is expected to honour and recognise the country's veterans.

Defence and Military Veterans Deputy Minister, Thabang Makwetla, said the draft Bill - which was approved by Cabinet last week - is a culmination of intensive research processes.

"The overall objectives of the Bill is to recognise and honor veterans, ensure a seamless transition from active military service to civilian life, restoring the capability of military veterans with disabilities, provide a comprehensive delivery machinery and system of benefits and services for military veterans," explained Makwetla.

The Bill, which repeals the Military Veterans Act of 1999 and attempts to streamline all other veterans related legislation into one comprehensive set of legislation, will be referred to Parliament for further processing.

According to the department, the legislation clarifies the definition of military veteran as a South African citizen who rendered military service to any of the military organisations from 1960 to 1994.

It also extends to those who served in the then 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 dishonorably discharged from that military organisation.

"In our view, this Bill represents a complete break with the past. Part of our objectives include the reconstruction of our history and heritage of our journey to freedom, democracy, and peace building in Africa and beyond," said Makwetla.

The Bill intends to enhance the well-being and quality of life of military veterans. The provision of healthcare support, housing, military pensions and business opportunities are some of the benefits identified by the Bill.