The Cheap and Tawdry Way Our Veterans are Treated

Why am I never shocked these days :x

The Cheap and Tawdry Way Our Veterans are Treated
One line stood out for me in our report today on the potential increases facing soldiers for the insurance they have to take out when they serve on operations abroad. They have to buy the insurance to make up for the inadequacy of the MoD's own compensation scheme. The premiums could be effectively doubled for many soldiers from January 1st to provide adequate cover for soldiers and their families in the event of their being severely injured or killed. But in its own way, it was just as shocking to learn that soldiers going to war have to insure their own kit. If they lose it in combat, it seems, they have to recompense the army for the cost and then claim it back from the insurance policy. How petty and parsimonious can the MoD bean-counters be? No don't answer it we know...

As we watch our wounded soldiers having to fight for adequate compensation after putting their lives at risk for their country, let's not assume that the public outcry and the media coverage will ensure they get treated better. Richard Leigh Perkins was a Chindit during the Second World War. He was medically discharged from the army in 1959. He should have received his pension tax-free, but like many thousands of others was wrongly taxed for years.

The problem was uncovered by John Perry, another former army officer, in the late 1990s. Perry was initially dismissed as a crackpot who didnt know what he was talking about by the civil servants charged with ensuring our troops are treated properly after they leave the forces. Eventually they accepted he was right and Tony Blair even stood up in parliament and apologised for the way the veterans had been treated. (Some would say getting an apology out of Tony Blair was an achievement in itself.)

The government said that all those affected - or in some cases, since many they had died, their next-of-kin - would be fully recompensed, not just by a refund of their tax but also with compensation to make up for the interest that would have accrued had they had the money the Treasury had wrongly taken from them.

Which brings us back to our former Chindit Richard Leigh Perkins. Like tens of thousands of others, he applied for the money he was due. The MoD claimed he had not been pensioned out of the services on the grounds of disablement. Read his discharge papers here and try to work out how they managed that one!

When an appeals tribunal ruled, in 2001, as any sensible person reading those discharge papers would, that there didn't seem to be any doubt that he had indeed been disabled out, the MoD agreed - after a good deal of prevaricating - to pay back his tax. BUT, and if you thought they were trying it on with the discharge papers, you wont believe this one! The MoD agreed to pay him only the tax he had paid since the 2001 appeals tribunal ruling.

They obviously thought that Perkins, then 83, was getting on a bit and would be grateful for small mercies, or to put it another way they were quite scandalously trying it on with someone who had bravely served his country in the hope of saving a bit of cash. They obviously hadn't read any books about the Chindits and their determined battles with the Japanes. Perkins was not ready to lay down and concede defeat and eventually the MoD agreed he should be refunded his tax back to 1959 when he actually left the army. But they have still not fulfilled the promise made by the government that he should be compensated for the interest he would have earned if he had the money steadily going into his bank account for the past 48 years, as of course he should have been. He is now 89. Still fighting, and hopefully will one win his battle before he dies, although of course that cannot be guaranteed.

So don't be surprised if the boys who have suffered debilitating injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan are still fighting to get properly compensated in 50 years time. The case of Richard Leigh Perkins shows there is no end to the cheap and tawdry way in which civil servants are prepared to treat our veterans.

Posted on November 04, 2007 at 06:38 PM in The Armed Forces
A good post kennys-go-nad. It seems that service personnel have an unlimited liability contract to the MOD whist the MOD use every conceivable tactic to wash their hands of any liability whatsoever. The covenant is what it is an unsigned promise. Until the covenant is signed in law it will never mean anything other than a platitude. They are cheaper.
Let us hope that some of these bean counters are out of work themselves soon.

What kind of human being would even consider behaving like this towards an elderly veteran? They are little better than the hoodies who mug them in the street.

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