Point system keeps vets in health care limbo for years

Troubled veterans who turn to the government for help after service face years of red-tape and paperwork to satisfy a points system to record their injuries before they can access a Gold Card to cover their health care.

While they undertake the Department of Veteran's Aff­airs process to prove their ­injuries they are repeatedly set back even if a small error is ­detected in their paperwork.

The system has been slammed by the mother of a veteran who suicided and a lawyer who represents those struggling with the system.

Under the Guide to the ­Assessment of Rates of Veterans' Pensions, each injury carries a different number of points depending on the ­severity and it must be proven.

Veterans lawyer and former army officer Glenn Kolomeitz said: "You have to prove all these different conditions and they need to add up to 60 points in order to get the Gold Card.

Veterans lawyer and former army officer Glenn Kolomeitz with his wife Dr Emma Gilchrist and their children Nicholas, 5, (born while his dad was serving in Afghanistan) and Lara, 3. Picture: Jonathan Ng
Veterans lawyer and former army officer Glenn Kolomeitz with his wife Dr Emma Gilchrist and their children Nicholas, 5, (born while his dad was serving in Afghanistan) and Lara, 3. Picture: Jonathan Ng

But trying to prove one condition is hard enough.

"For example, a commander deployed before and after 2004 who sustained PTSD would have to sit down and prove when and where they got that, which might be discredited anyway.

"Imagine a young veteran trying to fight for this nonsense. Most give up."

About 127,000 Department of Veterans' Affairs clients have the card which entitles the holder to treatment and care for all health conditions.

Those eligible include veterans aged over 70, and anyone who has a high level of impairment or incapacity.

The Daily Telegraph reported on Wednesday that Private Bradley Carr, 34, who battled injuries and the trauma of witnessing a mate killed in a bombing in Afghanistan, waited six years for a Gold Card.

Private Bradley Carr committed suicide on Anzac Day in 2018.
Private Bradley Carr committed suicide on Anzac Day in 2018.

He died on Anzac Day and his mother Glenda Weston condemned the system in which her son was repeatedly sent back to the beginning of the process which she said was like a "kick in the head".

Mr Kolomeitz said the point system stopped many young veterans seeking help.

"There are three compensation laws that you can fall under," he said.

"One covers veterans ­before 2004, the next is any time after that, and the final one is like a workplace injury law that covers everyone.

"The problem is a lot of ­veterans fall under more than one of those laws."

Former army reservist ­Michael Cameron, 45, who left the military in 2003 and has lost three friends to suicide, only began making claims to the DVA a few months ago.

"I have to justify things like why carrying a machine gun on my by back wrecked my body. They just want to save money by knocking people back as much as possible," he said.

"My knee is not counted as one condition. I have four different problems in it and each one only carries about one point, and that's not even guaranteed."

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Michael Cameron with his son Eli, 15, on Anzac Day this year.
Michael Cameron with his son Eli, 15, on Anzac Day this year.