Veterans Express Outrage at Welfare Rort Claims - 1 May 2007

APPVA News Release

Claims by the Australia Defence Association that East Timor veterans were being coached by lawyers to seek pay-outs for post traumatic stress disorder have outraged the Australian Peacekeeper and Peacemaker Veterans’ Association.

This reaction follows an article in The Australian newspaper today where Australia Defence Association executive director, Neil James, claims there was a growing industry amongst lawyers and advisors in assisting veterans to gain welfare compensation for stress related illnesses.

National President of the APPVA, Paul Copeland, said Neil James of the Australia Defence Association was far from qualified to essentially label claimants as malingerers.

“The Defence Association doesn’t deal with new veterans on a day-to-day basis and nor does it provide any level of welfare or mental health support,” Mr Copeland said.

“Yet Neil James is making claims of lawyers coaching veterans through PTSD claims is based on nothing more than perceived anecdotal evidence. How can he assess this? ”

Mr Copeland said more Australian troops have served in East Timor than in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“If 236 stress related claims have been received by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs from East Timor veterans, how many out of the other 3200 claims were stress related from other operational theatres? The Australian article never clarified this.”

Mr Copeland said he has received calls from Timor veterans who were upset with this very public assessment of their claims.

“These claims do very little to the self-esteem of veterans already struggling with the day-to-day symptoms of PTSD and nor do these claims invoke confidence in the system.”

“I would like to see Mr James confine his comments to the areas of his expertise instead of speaking on veterans’ welfare issues – which doesn’t help anyone especially the veterans.”

Paul Copeland
0419 355 226