Veterans can be assured that access to crucial support services will continue to be available throughout the Christmas and New Year period, Secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) Simon Lewis said today.
Mr Lewis said that providing continued access to support services was very important during the festive season, especially as many of our veterans find this time of year challenging.
“While Christmas can be a time of celebration for most Australians, for veterans it can be an unpleasant reminder of all that was lost – a reminder of the men and women who didn’t make it back home and of those continuing to serve our country far from their families and loved ones.
“I wish to reassure veterans and their families that while DVA services will be reduced during this break, help and support will remain available throughout the holiday period and they can continue to access crucial DVA services during this time,” Mr Lewis said.
The services that will remain available to veterans include:
– Counselling – The Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) offers 24-hour crisis counselling. This service is available toll free on 1800 011 046 to veterans of all conflicts and their families.
– Access to DVA’s online mental health information and support – Veterans can visit DVA’s At Ease mental health portal www.at-ease.dva.gov.au.
– Transport – DVA staff will be available to process transport requests for medical treatment between 28–30 December. The transport booking service will be closed on 26–27 December and 2 January.
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 3 January.
– Defence Service Homes (DSH) Insurance – Help with policy and claim enquiries is available 24-hours a day on 1300 552 662. Payments can be made on 1300 304 989 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 (VAPAC) 24-hours a day on 1800 552 580.
All DVA offices will close at the end of business on Friday, 23 December 2016 and will resume full services on Tuesday, 3 January 2017.
Mr Lewis added that there would be no change in pension payment dates this year over the Christmas–New Year period.
“Payments will be paid into clients’ nominated financial institutions as normal on Thursday, 22 December 2016. The first pension payment in 2017 will be on schedule on Thursday, 5 January 2017.
“To all members of the veteran, Defence and ex-service communities, on behalf of the Department I wish you all the best for the festive season and 2017,” Mr Lewis said.