Vietnam vets reject government apology

Hundreds of Vietnam War veterans are threatening to reject last year’s government apology for Agent Orange spraying during the war.

Their supporters – including former Judge Dame Augusta Wallace and Anglican Bishop Vercoe – have joined the veterans’ battle for more recognition.

They say the government is taking too long to provide better health care to affected veterans.

Four decades have passed since the soldiers were sprayed with Agent Orange and veterans say the government is not sorry enough.

There are claims more has been done for the unkown soldier than those known to be facing problems.

“The government is prepared to spend a lot of time and effort bringing someone back to New Zealand who served their country and died overseas,” says Vietnam veteran Ross Miller.

“How about investing that same time and effort looking after verterans who are still alive but who are subject to increased health risks.”

Seven hundred veterans and supporters have spelt out their concerns to Helen Clark in the face of the Prime Minister’s formal apology in December.

They want acknowledgement that soldiers’ were sprayed 350 times, something that has been denied in two reports including one released by the Labour Government.

“The McLeod and the Reeves reports need to be consigned to the rubbish heap – that’s what the select committe said and that’s what’ Im saying now,” says National’s Welfare spokesperson Judith Collins.

“In addition to that, these guys need proper annual medical check ups. They were poisoned and yet we are continuing to this day – 30 odd years later – saying what shall we do.”

Veterans Minister George Hawkins and Defence Minister Mark Burton are meeting with the RSA.

“We’re saying fine, let’s continue as we have for the last five years in a constructive engagement and we’re happy to meet with you, and that’s what we’re going to do next week,” says Burton.

Burton says veterans have thanked him for the progress so far, but a letter from 700 of them and their familes suggests some are far from satisfied.

Date-stamp: 2007 February 16. | By: TVNZ |  Article Link: tvnz.co.nz | Article Title: Vietnam vets reject government apology

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