Czech army should care for its veterans more - military official |

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Czech army should care for its veterans more - military official

Czech army should care for its veterans more - military official

The Defence Ministry and the Czech military should more focus on planning care for contemporary veterans, Eduard Stehlik, head of the ministry's section for war veterans, has told CTK. Stehlik said the group of Czech veterans radically changed in the last several years.

There were more than 1200 World War Two veterans six years ago, while only 345 of them were still alive this week, he said, adding that these people first of all need care due to their high age.

At the same time, the number of contemporary veterans who took part in a foreign mission increases by 500 every year. This group is more varied and its needs are different from those of the WW2 veterans. Some of the contemporary veterans are senior citizens and need assistance related to their health and other problems, those who keep serving in the army may receive some benefits, and others need assistance in retraining.

Stehlik said Czech care for war veterans may be inspired by the system that works in the Netherlands. He said the Czech army could catch up with the Dutch in this respect in five years.

In the United States, Britain and South Korea, care for war veterans is on a level that is too high for the Czech Republic, he said.

Stehlik said the ministry started dealing with the attitude to contemporary veterans belatedly. The first plan for care for war veterans was prepared for 2017-2021, he said.

He said the field services programme for veterans originally was to be cancelled because it was expected that it would not be needed as the number of WW2 veterans was shrinking. "I succeeded in convincing the superiors that there are contemporary veterans for whom the programme may be adapted," Stehlik said.

He said care for contemporary veterans will have to markedly intensified. Within five or ten years, the number of beds in military hospitals will have to increase and the building of homes for the veterans will have to be considered, he said, adding that there are not enough rooms for the veterans in homes for the elderly or in sanatoriums for the chronically ill already now.

There are three homes for war veterans in the Czech Republic: at the Prague military hospital, at the military hospital in Olomouc, north Moravia, and in Karlovy Vary, west Bohemia.

Stehlik said he believes there should be at least one home for war veterans in each of the 14 regions of the country.

Community centres for veterans will open in Olomouc and Prague soon and in 2021 in Tabor.

Stehlik said it sometimes seems that once a soldier leaves the army, the army is not interested in him anymore.

He said the ministry's section for war veterans had about 50 employees but most of them issue certificates on participation in the anti-communist resistance, take care of some 25,000 military pensioners or deal with care for war graves or distribution of subsidies. Only four people actually focus on care for war veterans, which is not enough, he said.

He said the situation would improve in January, but added that more radical changes should be made. The section should be reorganised and turned into an office directly subordinate to the minister, and it should have more employees including professional soldiers who can better communicate with veterans and other soldiers, he added.

As of next year, the section for war veterans is to have a civilian head. Stehlik said he does not plan to compete for the post. He said a civilian should not head the section because soldiers will not consider him their partner.

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