Crucial support services for Benalla’s veteran community will continue to be available throughout Christmas and the new year.
Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) secretary Simon Lewis confirmed this week that support services would be available throughout the festive season.
Mr Lewis said providing veterans with continued access to support services was particularly important during this festive time of year because it could be a challenging period for many veterans.
‘‘Christmas is a time of celebration for most Australians, but it’s important to remember that for veterans it can bring on a reminder of what has been lost, of the men and women who didn’t make it back home from service overseas and of those continuing to serve our country far from their families and loved ones,’’ Mr Lewis said.
‘‘I wish to reassure veterans and their families that while some DVA services will be reduced during this break, help and support, including mental health support, will remain available throughout the holiday period and they can continue to access crucial DVA services during this time.’’
The services that will remain available to veterans include:
●Counselling – The Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service offers free and confidential, nationwide counselling and support for current and former Australian Defence Force members and their families. This service is available toll free on 1800011046, 24/7.
●Access to DVA’s online mental health information and support – Veterans can visit DVA’s At Ease mental health portal wherever they are at www.at-ease.dva.gov.au
●Transport — DVA staff will be available to process transport requests for medical treatment between December 27 and 29. The transport booking service will be closed on December 25 and 26 and January 1. If transport is required during this period, but has not been pre-booked, DVA clients can pay for the transport up front and seek reimbursement when offices re-open.
Alternatively, transport can be booked and reviewed, and travel expenses can be claimed online through DVA’s MyAccount at https://myaccount.dva.gov.au
●Hospital admissions — Doctors can admit DVA patients into hospital and request retrospective approval for the admission, where required, when DVA resumes full services on January 2.
●Defence Service Homes Insurance — Help with policy and claim enquiries is available 24-hours a day on 1300552662. Payments can be made on 1300304989 or via the DSH website www.dsh.gov.au
●Pharmaceutical approvals — providers seeking prior approval for pharmaceuticals can call the Veterans’ Affairs Pharmaceutical Advisory Centre 24-hours a day on 1800552580.
All DVA offices will close at the end of business on Friday, December 22, and will resume full services on Tuesday, January 2.
Mr Lewis said there would be no change in pension payment dates this year during the Christmas–new year period.
‘‘To all members of the veteran and defence community and their families, on behalf of the Department I wish you all the best for the festive season and 2018,’’ Mr Lewis said.