I am writing this hoping to get some assistance, as I served overseas in Malaysia as a National Serviceman. My overseas deployment was with the
110 LAA Bty at the Butterworth Airbase as a driver from 24th August, 1967 to 24th December 1968 (493 days). Until now I have only been issued with a White Card for cancer treatment, as I had a kidney removed due to a large cancerous tumour and a BCC removed from my neck. I have been told that I cannot get a Gold Card as I did not serve in a `Warlike Zone’. There are records showing that the operational period for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei were from 17th August 1964 – 30th September 1967. (Item 7 of Schedule 2 to the VEA 1986) For years we have had trouble proving that we served at the Butterworth Air Base, as the then Minister for Defence, Malcolm Fraser, put on our deployment papers that we were going to Singapore and omitted that we were continuing on to the 110 LAA Bty at the Air Base, where I served for 493 days.
Whilst in training at Puckapunyal, I fell from the high rope with pack and rifle, landing on my back, but being `bullet-proof’ in my younger days, I just jumped up and did it again. Also, I fell from the top of a truck whilst putting on a canvas canopy while we were on exercise at China Rock. Whilst at Butterworth Airbase I put up with regular spraying of Dieldrin and Kerosene for mosquito control and also had to use use solvent to clean truck parts and artillery parts.
I now live with a third of my bowel removed, one kidney (right kidney removed with clear cell renal cell carcinoma), two artificial hips and two rods and 10 screws in my back after 4 major back operations since 1991. I believe that the government should take some responsibility for my medical problems and give me further assistance in the way of a Gold Card. At the moment I am waiting to see another specialist, as I may need more back fusions as I cannot walk more than 100 metres and am in continual pain for which I am on strong medication. Also, I am now on anti-depressant tablets because of my continual pain. Since 1991 I tried several different jobs, because of the pain and disability I couldn’t hold employment so we lived on any assets we had and the Disability Pension.
I had two years of my life taken away to serve my country, but I now feel more could be done for me and other National Servicemen, when (I believe) others who have not left the country have been given the Gold card.
As we live on the age pension (previously Disability Pension from 1997) and paying Private Health (HBF) at $5,240 per year, it takes a big bite out of our funds. I would appreciate it if you could put my case forward for a Gold Card.