News Veterans to Protest over Compensation

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MILITARY personnel who claim they are being ignored by Australian governments will stage a peaceful protest on Anzac Day in a move that is dividing veterans.

The Sea of Orange protest will be staged by men and women fighting for compensation after suffering post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of their service. Organisers expect up to 4000 protesters to wear an orange ribbon or article of clothing when they take part in Anzac Day parades across the nation.

Tomorrow's Bulletin magazine reports veterans of conflicts from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Rwanda, Somalia and East Timor have all indicated they will take part.

The report says up to a third of the 10,000 Australians who served in East Timor are suffering some form of PTSD, while the number of sufferers among those who served in Vietnam continues to grow.

Former aircraft de-sealer Ian Fraser said service men and women had been driven to protest by a bureaucratic quagmire.

Many people were being denied access to limited lump-sum federal compensation because it required an unreasonable burden of medical proof, he said.

"It's a bureaucratic nightmare," he told The Bulletin.

"It is driving many sick people into absolute despair."

Protest organiser and East Timor veteran Corporal Paul Dignon said his own PTSD claim was rejected.

He acknowledges the protest will not have the support of Returned and Services League (RSL).

"The senior officers in the RSL might be dead against the protest, but many, many members are for it," he said.

RSL national President Bill Crews said the Anzac Day march was not a place for protest and many would see it as "an affront to the service men and women whose sacrifices we are honouring".

"Some veterans may seek to march wearing orange armbands ... it is the prerogative of each march organising committee and the march marshalls to deicide which action to take," Mr Crews told The Bulletin.

Source: Adelaide Advertiser
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