Veteran hopes win will spur law change

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JACK.CONROY@nullcluthaleader.co.nz

A New Zealand army veteran has finally had his service recognised, after a lengthy battle to be heard.

‘‘I am now legally accepted as a veteran in New Zealand,’’ Lloyd Gould, of Tahakopa Valley, said.

‘‘Things are now looking up.

‘‘I can come out of my box and start enjoying life again,’’

He said Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand came to the decision to recognise him as a veteran in December last year, but he was still ‘‘going over some paperwork over the next few weeks’’.

Mr Gould spoke to the Clutha Leader in September after launching a petition to have the Veterans’ Support Act 2014 looked into.

He had spent nine years and eight months with the British army, before joining the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) in 2001. There, he served a further nine years and four months, achieving the rank of corporal.

His grievance first involved a motorcycle injury he received while training in Paraparaumu in 2001, which was later diagnosed as having caused his arthritis.

‘‘I’ve been told by Veterans’ Affairs that I don’t qualify for assistance because my injury didn’t happen during deployment.

‘‘I was still doing army training.

‘‘If it didn’t happen during deployment, they just don’t care.’’

Later in 2001, he became part of an NZDF weapons disposal unit in Bougainville.

Mr Gould has spasms of pain in his hands which make it difficult to write or do work that requires his hands.

He put this down to more than arthritis.

A lengthy letter-writing campaign finally brought Veterans’ Affairs to recognise his standing as a veteran and agree to give financial aid.

Veterans’ Affairs would take over from Work and Income, giving Mr Gould some relief while he completed a psychology degree.

Mr Gould lived off plants from his garden, along with eggs and meat from the animals on his remote property. He travelled into Owaka periodically to check and send emails.

While he was happy with the outcome, he hoped an overhaul of the whole system for recognising and supporting veterans would result.

He wants the Act to be brought into line with the findings of Prof Ron Paterson’s Warrant of Fitness review from 2017.

‘‘Professor Paterson’s review should be urgently discussed with the public and a referendum held on the matter with the simple question to start discussion being ‘How does New Zealand want to acknowledge their veterans?’ .’’