By Ivan Kaahwa
The Minister of State for Veteran Affairs, Huda Abason Oleru, affirmed that her Ministry is dedicated to supporting military veterans by addressing payment backlogs and engaging them in economic activities to enhance their livelihoods. This initiative aims to foster vibrancy among veterans, who continually contribute to national security and development.
The minister highlighted that, with a streamlined system in place, the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) has successfully verified and disbursed terminal benefits to 13,412 military veterans who retired between 1992 and 2014 nationwide.
She stated that the disbursement was made after the government embraced a verification system where 25,033 were verified out of 68,000, leaving 16,622 veterans unpaid. 1,350 veterans have received assistance in legal services and settling issues, including land disputes, through a dedicated legal team available to support veterans who are unable to raise substantial funds for legal matters.
This initiative aims at reintegrating veterans into communities to live better lives while contributing to national security. The Minister mentioned that the Ministry of Defence and Veteran Affairs has reviewed the defence policy and UPDF act 2005 to address all issues affecting military Veterans.
There are veterans who receive one-time payments, and others are enrolled on the payroll and receive pensions. The Ministry of Finance plans to release about 50 billion in the current financial year to clear groups whose files are ready, emphasizing that delays in fund release lead to an increase in the funds required to clear arrears for veterans. Although data remains available, funds are currently unavailable.
The Minister reaffirmed the commitment to handling and paying the indebtedness of former fighters in West Nile and Kasese. She further stated that Veterans are organized in SACCOs and associations, acting as a ticket for their involvement in programs geared towards uplifting lives, including those of wives, orphans, and children of veterans. Reportedly, every county has a veteran SACCO.
The government has also signed an MOU with veterans to purchase a kilogram of maize from their agricultural produce at a fixed cost of 1,500 per kilogram, even when the price of maize drops. This is geared towards maintaining support for veterans.
By policy, all military veterans can access medical health services for free from UPDF health facilities.
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