Ex-servicemen need their entitlement

Letters

WHEN serving the nation, allowance delayed is allowance denied.
The non-payment of the outstanding Housing-Hardship (H&H) entitlement owed to the retrenched members of the PNGDF to date is appalling.
It is absolutely ridiculous and lacks substance from reputable government organisations and its agents, who orchestrated the retrenchment program.
Why they continuously ignore the cries of once dedicated and committed group of Ex-Diggers.
We have answered the call of duty with loyalty and commitment; many of our mates have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Now we are a toothless tigers. Common sense must prevail to alleviate the disadvantage and suffering we encounter day by day, week by week and year by year.
Many of the retrenched diggers through out PNG (700 plus) have gone to the graves without receiving their benefits, leaving behind devastated and brokenhearted families, while others are sick and not in the best of health.
Few are still going the hard yards on behalf of their mates and families hoping that the calls and cries will be head by those in authority.
It was never meant to be that way. This is insane and bureaucrats must take note and do whatever is humanly possible for this group of former diggers. Although it is “water under the bridge”, for the record, HQPNGDF and it`s agents implemented the retrenchment programme commencing in 2000 through to 2009. It was a turning point for the PNGDF and a massive operation, however, it was poorly planned and implemented.
One wonders who`s interest was it to downsize the military in the first place? To many YES SIR by the red collars at HQPNGDF and almost 19 years on and we still have outstanding benefit issues. Serving members please take note and hope this scenario is not repeated during your service.
The theme and objective of this programme was a smaller army, well equipped and highly trained personal equipped with the state of the art and technological advance equipment backed up by modern logistical support and much better and improved condition of service.
PNGDF was to be the highly trained and mobilised fighting-fit force in the Asian-Pacific region. Almost 19years on and have we achieved those goals? I remember back in 2000 when the retrenchment programme rumours were circulating at HQ, the flow of communication, effective dialogue regarding the impact on the servicemen and their families (after retirement) was never a consideration in the planning phase.
In the military that is part and parcel of the resettlement programme. HQPNGDF and its agent’s main interest were focused on getting rid of the 3000-plus servicemen as if there was a threat of some kind to the people and the government by the diggers.
There were no seminars or separation conferences prepared or arranged where servicemen and their families would be given the opportunity to ask questions on the planned mass exodus and its aftermath.
We were kept in the dark and the names were drawn up by HQ and forwarded to the various units and subunits throughout the country. The types of benefits were never fully explained resulting in many getting the wrong benefits at the time.
The bottom line is that retrenchment thing was shoved down our throats and disregarded the effects on servicemen and families.
That alone is injustice and the effects are still felt today.
The H&H benefit and other benefits was not on the list of member entitlements, although it was supposed to be included in the member’s benefits payout list ex-servicemen and families were mistreated unfairly and they continue to suffer to this day.
The Defence Force Retirement Benefits Fund (DFRBF) would have been the authorised organisation to handle matters relating to retirement, retrenchment, redundant, medical discharge or termination benefits, but on this occasion DFRBF was not there for the diggers.
Operation Bum Wantaim on the island of Bougainville in the early ‘90s was a disaster and the hallmarks of deeply rooted political manoeuvring and motivation was apparent.
A thorn in the PNGDF and a sore that will never heal for generations to come. For those of us who were there at that time, it was a suicide mission. A simple police matter became a military disaster and nightmare.
Combatants did not serve the PNG government, we the servicemen of PNGDF, RPMGC, CIS and other government bodies were out there doing the hard yards. Hundreds of lives were lost and unaccounted for in the name of service. To that end the servicemen’s outstanding entitlements must be given priority No.1before anybody else.
Allowance delayed is allowance denied. We deserve some respect and dignity for services rendered.

SGT Mura (Ret) Brisbane, Aust.

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