25 October 2019
Two Upper Hutt Cadet units were out in full force at the recent Vietnam veterans health and wellbeing expo at the Lower Hutt Events Centre.
Army and Air Cadets volunteered to provide support to more than 300 Vietnam veterans and their family members from Hawke’s Bay, Kāpiti, Manawatū, Taranaki, Wairarapa, and Wellington.
Veterans’ Affairs, working in partnership with Ranfurly Veterans Trust, brought together 20 veteran support agencies, providers, and support organisations to provide support and services to the veterans in a “one-stop shop”.
Cadets provided assistance with parking, case management appointments, and getting veterans in and out of the venue safely.
Unit Commander Lieutenant Robb Wood said being at the expo was part of Cadets’ legacy serving their communities.
“Supporting our country's veterans is important to us because many of them were once one of us,” he said. “They are also some of the biggest supporters of what we do and to us they are whanau.”
The expo provided a priceless opportunity for Cadets to talk to veterans and learn about their experiences in the New Zealand Defence Force.
Under Officer Catherina Dolstra said volunteering at the expo was a way for her to be involved in her community and to connect with veterans.
“It was great being able to give back to veterans, who have spent so much time training and defending other countries, as well their own,” she said.
“I also got to see another side of what Veterans’ Affairs does, like how the case managers work and the sort of support veterans get.”
Head of Veterans’ Affairs Bernadine Mackenzie said bringing together Veterans’ Affairs and affiliated organisations in one place was a great way for Vietnam veterans to get information face to face.
“We know the value in sitting down with our veterans and talking to them about what they need,” Ms Mackenzie said. “It helps us to make sure that they are getting the support they need for independent daily living.”
While the expo was a success for those who attended, it is believed 200 to 300 Vietnam veterans are not accessing the services available to them through Veterans’ Affairs.
Vietnam veterans who are not accessing support are encouraged to contact Veterans’ Affairs through www.veteransaffairs.mil.nz or 0800 483 8372.