Message from Jo Elworthy, Principal Adviser Veterans’ Affairs
24th March 2020
Bernadine MacKenzie has asked me to contact you all to let you know how Veterans’ Affairs is responding to the Covid-19 emergency.
All of our staff are now working from home. However we’re continuing to focus on ensuring that veterans and their whanau are safe, and our regular payments to our clients will continue. Information about what is changing in how we work is now on our website www.veteransaffairs.mil.nz, but we’re also contacting you directly about this. You might like to pass this information on to your members.
You’ll need to contact VA differently during this time
Our inbound phone lines are now closed but case managers can still do outbound calls, which means that we can call clients who need to speak to us. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can call you back. If you, or someone you know, doesn’t have access to email, then ask a family member or trusted friend to email us on your behalf. All we need to know is your phone number. It will take a bit longer than usual to get back to you, and we appreciate your patience during these unprecedented times.
We’re continuing to make payments
We’ll continue to make regular payments to clients. These include:
War disablement pension
Weekly Income Compensation
Surviving Spouse or Partner Pension
We’re stopping non-essential work
We’ve also made the difficult decision to suspend some of our commemorative programmes until further notice. These programmes are:
the Veteran’s Pin and Certificate of Appreciation; and
the Commemorative Travel Contribution.
Suspending these programmes will free up staff to support our colleagues in other parts of Veterans’ Affairs. That way, we can continue to provide critical support to veterans and their whanau. We’re also strongly discouraging commemorative travel following the New Zealand Government’s advice against all international travel.
All VA outreach events are cancelled until further notice. This includes our:
Auckland case management clinics
Presentations and expos on NZDF camps and bases.
What you can do
We’re all in this together; and there are clear guidelines to follow so we can keep each other and all of New Zealand safe and well. Please check the Government website www.covid19.govt.nz for the most up-to-date information about what is happening, and what we’re required and advised to do. From tomorrow, this means everyone staying at home for the next four weeks, apart from workers offering designated essential services.
We appreciate that this is a very tough time. At VA we’re doing our best to make sure that we can continue to support our veteran community as much as we can in what are difficult circumstances. We send our very best wishes to you, your families and whanau, and the members of your organisations. Keep safe and stay well - Jo
Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand––Te Tira Ahu Ika A Whiro