Pretoria: Military veterans now have access to critical benefits such as housing, health, education, burial support and pensions among other things, thanks to the Military Veterans Benefits Regulations (MVBR).
On 19 February, the Department of Military Veterans had gazetted the MVBR in Section 5 of the Military Veterans Act stipulating clear guidelines for the roll out of benefits as prescribed in the regulations gazette.
Other benefits include job creation and placements as well as business support.
Military Veterans Department Director-General Tsepe Motumi on Friday announced that the benefits will be rolled out in strategic spending of the R300 million that Treasury has allocated to the department.
“We have been hard at work for over a year to prepare the plans so that when the consultations are complete and the money is accordingly transferred we should immediately commence with the roll out of the benefits,” he said.
With regard to housing, Motumi said an amount of R72 million has been allocated to the roll out the provision of 505 houses to military veterans.
However, he said detailed plans as well as Service Level Agreements with the Department of Human Settlements both nationally and provincially are being finalised to ensure speedy provision of these long awaited houses to military veterans.
Motumi said between October and December last year, they have undertook road shows to the nine provinces, where they distributed 5 000 medical healthcare cards to military veterans.
The healthcare cards enabled the veterans to get free medical care at any medical facility of the South African Medical Health Service (SAMHS) of the South African National Defence Force (SAMHS).
“A total amount of over R3 million was spent for that campaign. We are now on the basis of the information gathered at the time providing counselling to more 1000 military veterans,” he said.
On education, Motumi said during the previous academic year, 100 bursaries at the cost R2 million were provided to military veterans at both basic education and tertiary.
He said for the 2014/15 academic year, the figure has been doubled.
“200 bursaries have been provided to military veterans and an amount of R6 million has been allocated to ensure that books, laptops and other education materials necessary for military veterans and their dependents’ for them to study without any hassles are also provide,” he said.
To date, the department has provided burial support to almost 500 military veterans who died destitute.
Before the gazetting, an amount of R10 000 was provided to families of military veterans for burial support.
“We are indeed elated to announce that following the gazetting, the amount has been increased to 25 000 as well as the provision of a coffin.
“We believe that this will go a long way in ensuring that military veterans are provided dignified and honourable burials that they surely deserve,” he said.
The Director-General also announced that they reached an agreement with the Department of Social Development to utilise the capacity and capability of South African Social Security Agency to accelerate the delivery of pensions to military veterans. He said the Ministry will soon be making the detailed announcement of this matter.
With regard to job creation, Motumi said to date almost 1 200 military veterans have been assisted to access job opportunities through a Memoranda of Understanding signed with the Departments of Water and Environmental Affairs, Rural Development and Land Affairs, Agriculture and other state entities.
“We are also engaging with the private sector to ensure a bigger net for job opportunities that will adequately respond to huge job needs of military veterans and their dependents,” he said.
Motumi said all provincial coordinators of the department would have been employed by the beginning of April 2014, thus ensuring that military veterans would no longer have to travel to Pretoria to get services.
SOURCE: South African Official News