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Support available to veterans affected by bushfires

OVER 50,000 Australian military veterans live in communities affected by this season’s unprecedented bushfires and there is support available to them through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA), Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel Darren Chester announced last month.

“While I’m in Gippsland supporting my electorate through this challenging time, I know many in the veteran community have also been affected by the bushfires,” Mr Chester said.

“In addition, many veterans have assisted in firefighting activities and are now using their unique skills to support bushfire recovery efforts. I thank them for the work they are doing and know it is greatly appreciated by local communities who are doing it tough.”

Mr Chester said veterans can access support by contacting the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, including financial, health and mental health, and home insurance support.

Veteran and defence communities can access a range of services, including the following:

  • Veterans and their families requiring emergency counselling support (24/7) should call Open Arms on 1800 011 046. There is also information on recovering from trauma or dealing with triggers on the Open Arms website.
  • For Defence Service Homes Insurance information and claims call 1300 552 662 or visit the website.
  • DVA clients eligible for income support and service pensions may be eligible for a one-off Crisis payment (see Factsheet IS121 – Crisis Payments).
  • The Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment is a one-off payment managed by the Department of Human Services. For eligibility information and how to claim visit the website or call 180 22 66.
  • The Veterans’ Access Network (VAN) can be contacted on 1800 555 254 to assist with a wide range of issues, including replacement of aids and appliances, ensuring availability of pharmaceuticals, and arranging transportation to medical appointments.

In addition, the Australian Government is providing $76 million through the National Bushfire Recovery Fund for mental health services and support. This includes funding for free counselling sessions, extra Medicare and telehealth consultations, an expansion of headspace services for young Australians, and community recovery initiatives.

Replacements for medals lost or destroyed in bushfires

Medals that have been lost or damaged in the fires across Australia may be replaced under the Defence Honours and Awards Replacement Medal Policy.

Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel, Darren Chester said while there was a long road ahead for communities recovering from the bushfires, replacing lost medals was a small step towards recovery.

“Current and ex-serving members of the Australian Defence Force are entitled to one replacement set of medals. We know that this is a small piece of the recovery effort, but it is important,” Mr Chester said.

Holders of a deceased family member’s medals are also entitled to receive one replacement set, provided that replacements have not already been issued.

“Even if you do not know exactly what medals were lost or damaged, as long as you have the original recipient’s full name and date of birth Defence can fulfil the request,” Mr Chester said.

To apply for replacement medals, please visit: www.defence.gov.au/medals and complete the Defence Medals Online Application Form, selecting Replacement Medals as the application type.

Replacement medals cannot be issued if any compensation for their loss or damage has already been received via insurance claims. Replica medals may be purchased from a range of sources such as coin and medal dealers.

You can visit the DVA website by clicking here.

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