Veterans Minister announces new focus on mental health for veterans and their whānau

Te Arataki mō te Hauora Ngākau mō ngā Mōrehu a Tū me ō rātou Whānau, The Veteran, Family and Whānau Mental Health and Wellbeing Policy Framework

“We ask a lot of those who serve in the military – and we ask a lot of the families and whānau who support them,” Veterans Minister Meka Whaitiri said at the launch of a new focus for The Veteran, Family and Whānau Mental Health and Wellbeing Policy Framework – a detailed examination of the mental health and wellbeing of Aotearoa New Zealand’s veterans.

In paying tribute to the service and sacrifice of our New Zealand veterans, Minister Whaitiri said “It’s an honour to be with our veterans at Parliament to acknowledge their service.

“Many veterans leave service and transition into civilian life successfully, but others experience mental health and/or addiction issues, and are at risk of other outcomes including social withdrawal, poverty, homelessness, intimate partner violence, and suicide.

“Those pressures and experiences can’t just be shrugged off and left behind – they come with the men and women who served when they transition out into civilian life.

He Ara Oranga, the 2018 report of the Government’s inquiry into mental health and addiction, identified veterans as a vulnerable group, however a framework was never developed to address their needs. In 2021, Veterans’ Affairs began the process to do that and brought together key defence and health organisations, veteran advocacy groups, health practitioners, and veterans to focus on the mental health and wellbeing of veterans and their families.

The aim of this roundtable group was to develop a cohesive and compelling resource explaining why we need to focus on the needs of veterans, and how we can better meet their needs.

The roundtable highlighted the need for system improvements, increased awareness, effective prevention, and enhanced support. They recommended that organisations – both military and civilian, government and non-government – should collaborate better to take immediate and effective steps to improve the wellbeing of our veterans, their families and whānau.

Veterans’ Affairs will work hard to make this happen, and will ensure that the priorities identified, have been embraced and taken forward.

Minister of Defence Peeni Henare and Minister of Health Minister Andrew Little welcomed the resource and support for the framework.

“The document that we’re launched today has an important message for the community, and for those organisations, agencies, and people, who can support veterans and their whānau – and who can make a real difference in their lives”

“It explains what’s needed – and just as importantly – it looks at the evidence about need and responses.

“It’s identified where work needs to be done – and what are the sorts of interventions that actually do make a difference. The ways in which we truly can help the veterans who have served us.” Meka Whaitiri said