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Veteran Angus Sim challenges Department of Veteran’s Affairs with own satisfaction survey
PAUL TOOHEY, News Corp Australia Network-May 30, 2017 12:30am
THE Department of Veterans Affairs’ latest glowing report on its own performance helping veterans has been challenged by an Iraq war vet who has produced his own comprehensive survey showing it continues to fail them miserably.
Angus Sim, (below) who suffers post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) after serving in Baghdad’s deadly red zone at the height of the war, conducted his own surveys of more than 700 veterans after the DVA published results in 2014 and 2016 showing high satisfaction among vets accessing claims and services.
Iraq veteran Angus Sim.
Mr Sim’s detailed surveys show a complete reverse to the DVA results, which in 2014 claimed 89 per cent of clients were satisfied or very satisfied with DVA, and the 2016 results, which showed a drop to 83 per cent satisfaction.
Mr Sim’s surveys, networked on Facebook with the assistance of Brisbane barrister Greg Williams, showed that in 2015, 72 per cent of veterans were either unsatisfied or extremely unsatisfied with DVA, which rose to 82 per cent in 2017.
“No one believes it,” said Mr Sim of the DVA surveys, conducted on its behalf by market research company Orima, for which taxpayers paid $174,500 in 2014 and $220,320 in 2016.
“It’s done to make the department and the minister look good.”
DEVIL IN THE DETAIL
In 2016, Orima surveyed 3002 DVA clients, almost two-thirds of whom were over the age of 65.
They were asked specifically about issues dealing with the DVA in the last 12 months — even though most of this cohort would have long since settled claims with DVA and had little contact with the department.
Nineteen per cent of that group were widows or widowers, meaning they had seen no service.
“That just shows they’re surveying people that are happy,” said Mr Sim. “They are 65 plus, the settled majority who’ve had their claims done and dusted.”
The high suicide rate among younger veterans is currently subject of a senate inquiry, which will examine complaints that DVA adds to stress with its slow processing of claims. A separate 2015 Senate report into DVA found its services lamentable.
Mr Sim, 32, believes DVA’s antiquated and unwieldy bureaucracy drives troubled vets further to despair.
In comments to News Corp, DVA agreed that “older clients have a higher satisfaction rate than younger veterans”.
It said targeting younger veterans who had experienced recent “warlike” service, to gauge their satisfaction, was not one of the sampling criteria.
“Connecting with younger veterans is a high priority for DVA, which includes the commitment to improve business and technology systems to be more client focused, responsive and connected,” it said.
With overall satisfaction among clients dropping six points between 2014 and 2016, it was examining the results “to better understand why there was a decrease”.
Mr Williams said DVA should conduct surveys that isolated different veteran age groups so a true picture of the satisfaction levels among recently returned vets could be understood.
“The books are cooked,” said Mr Williams.
“They’re cooked because the sampling was very biased to more elderly people and widows who are more than happy to take calls from Orima, because they have no dramas.
“The more pertinent issues relate to people who have been to Afghanistan and Iraq.”
Wish my remembering was a s good as my forgetting
During the 2016 meeting of the National Council of the RAR, which was held in Melbourne Hori Howard caught up with several members of his old company at the home o,f Noel Huggins, including Peter Fraser, John Stretch, and Paul McCrohan. Together they decided that they would try for a reunion in Canberra in early 2017. While the notice was short, limiting the numbers who could make it, the event was held on Tuesday and Wednesday, 7-8 March at the Accor Hotel on Limestone Avenue.
There was a get together at the hotel on the first evening which by the noise was very successful. It was good to see both Harry Clarsen and Doug Dick, the platoon commanders of 3 Platoon and 1 Platoon able to make it, and of course Peter Fraser was there as he was one of the main organisers. “Spider” Williams was the only platoon sergeant able to make it, but he made up for the others by his typical enthusiasm. Graeme Hendrickson our MFC was his usual friendly self and was clad in distinctive disruptive pattern trousers. Ian Hill and Jim Austen made it all the way from Tasmania and of course Jack Davis was front and centre. It was good to see so many wives and partners attending. Ian Thompson’s parents joined us and were made very welcome. Ian was killed in action.
Bob Dabinett, who is now the President of the 3RAR Corporation, gave us some details of the plans for 2018, which is of course the 50th Anniversary of the battles of Coral and Balmoral. We understand that there will be a formal commemoration in Canberra on 12-13 May and that 3RAR intends to commemorate the battle of Balmoral later in the month in Townsville. Details of both events will be promulgated when available.
Most of us took the opportunity to visit the Australian War Memorial on 8 May and everyone was particularly impressed by the new World War 1 Galleries.
We held a small service at the Vietnam War Memorial on ANZAC Parade in the afternoon, paying tribute to our six who were killed in action and the 42 who have died since. Poppies were laid on behalf of the fallen and a bugler from the RMC Band played the Last Post. Ian Hill recited a poem entitled “A Family I Didn’t Know, which he wrote.
We decided to attend the 1700 hours service at the War Memorial and it was most impressive. We were honoured by Dr Brendon Nelson, being given a special position for the service and Hori laid a wreath on behalf of the fallen. As it was International Womens’ Day, the Catafalque Party, narrator, bugler and piper were all girls and they were most impressive.
The reunion wound up with a buffet dinner on the evening of the 8th, and once again a good time was had by all. We declared the event a success and are looking forward to a bigger and better reunion next year.
IN HONOUR OF
Pte Tom De Vries van Leeuwen
L/Cpl Roger Fisher
L/Cpl Alan Cooper
Pte Bill Thomas
Pte Ian Thomson
L/Cpl Paul Van Rijsewijk
A Thank You to all Vietnam Vets from a Soldier in Iraq
A guy gets time to think over here and I was thinking about all the support we get from home. Sometimes it's overwhelming. We get care packages at times faster than we can use them. There are boxes and boxes of toiletries and snacks lining the center of every tent; the generosity has been amazing. So, I was pondering the question: "Why do we have so much support?"
In my opinion, it all came down to one thing: Vietnam Veterans. I think we learned a lesson, as a nation, that no matter what, you have to support the troops who are on the line, who are risking everything. We treated them so poorly back then. When they returned was even worse. The stories are nightmarish of what our returning warriors were subjected to. It is a national scar, a blemish on our country, an embarrassment to all of us.
After Vietnam, it had time to sink in. The guilt in our collective consciousness grew. It shamed us. However, we learned from our mistake. Somewhere during the late 1970's and on into the 80's, we realized that we can't treat our warriors that way. So .... starting during the Gulf War, when the first real opportunity arose to stand up and support the troops, we did. We did it to support our friends and family going off to war. But we also did it to right the wrongs from the Vietnam era. We treat our troops of today like the heroes they were, and are, acknowledge and celebrate their sacrifice, and rejoice at their homecoming ... instead of spitting on them.
And that support continues today for those of us in Iraq. Our country knows that it must support us and it does. The lesson was learned in Vietnam and we are all better because of it.
Everyone who has gone before is a hero. They are celebrated in our heart. I think admirably of all those who have gone before me. from those who fought to establish this country in the late 1770's to those I serve with here in Iraq. They have all sacrificed to ensure our freedom. But when I get back home, I'm going to make it a personal mission to specifically thank every Vietnam Vet I encounter for THEIR sacrifice. Because if nothing else good came from that terrible war, one thing did. It was the lesson learned on how we treat our warriors. We as a country learned from our mistake and now we treat our warriors as heroes, as we should have all along. I am the beneficiary of their sacrifice. Not only for the freedom they, like veterans from other wars, ensured, but for how well our country now treats my fellow Diggers and I. We are the beneficiaries of their sacrifice.
From an Unknown Australian Digger in Iraq.
From the Presidents Report
Another thing that was discussed with the Battalion Reps was
how do we get our newsletter to members, the internet seemed to be the option of the future, this is the way the younger generation operate, also the crippling cost of printing and posting newsletters out is making it hard for the Associations. We will not go down this path immediately, but I would like you to think about it and let us know if you have any suggestions.
Snippet From InTouch