Face of the day

KELLY HODEL/STUFF
Vietnam veteran Denny Makara was about to hand his war medals back in disgust for his treatment after he was injured in action.

A NZSAS Vietnam veteran who was denied a war pension after being injured in action has received a $16,000 payout and an apology from Veteran Affairs – but only after 40 years of fighting.

Rotorua man Denny Makara was entitled to 10 per cent of his war pension after he was injured in Vietnam, but payments stopped in 1976 after his doctor was told Makara had never served in Vietnam.

Evidence that he was telling the truth is on this government website which also includes the details of my father who served in Vietnam.

[…] After calling Work and Income for clarification, Makara says he was told he was just an “old Rambo and a nutcase” and wasn’t eligible for assistance.

This was despite the fact Makara was able to produce overwhelming evidence that he had indeed served in Vietnam. His name was mentioned in troop lists and discharge lists. There is also physical evidence in the form of photographs of himself in Vietnam alongside other members of the NZSAS.

“That really hurt my mana,” he said. “I didn’t dwell on it but it started to get hard with all the medical bills.”

Makara fought to have his war pension reinstated and after 15 years payments resumed. After his pension was reinstated he has been fighting for an apology for his treatment and back payment for the missing years.

Fifteen years is a very long time. It is a pity Whaleoil wasn’t around back then to shame the government into sorting it out. Makara had compelling evidence that he had been in Vietnam. The refusal to pay him his pension appears to have been totally unjustified and based on nothing but a rumour.

“We did our country proud over there,” he said. “It’s not right how we were being treated. It’s like they have treated us like ghosts. Most of us have passed on but we are not all ghosts. Not yet.”

While serving in Vietnam, Makara was injured in a helicopter crash during a combat extraction.[…]

Makara threatened to hand back his war medals to the Defence Minister at the end of November if he did not receive an apology and compensation for his mistreatment.

“I would not have been proud for my boy to wear them,” he said.

On November 15 2017, Makara received a note in the mail from Veteran Affairs saying there had been a miscalculation of his war pension and a back payment was owed of more than $16,000. This was deposited into his account.

“It was good that they recognised it and came up to apologise in person,” he said. “I told them it is a shame good people like them were having to correct the mistakes of the past. I am more pleased now as I will be proud for my boy to wear my war medals.”

 – Sunday Star Times


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