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Ukraine needs the Ministry of Veterans Affairs

Author : Iryna Sampan

If the minister of veterans is not appointed before the parliamentary vacations, the creation of the ministry is postponed to the next year
12:35, 22 June 2018

Read the original text at 112.ua.  

Press service of General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine

At the end of February 2018, the Verkhovna Rada appealed to the government with a demand to create a Ministry for Veterans Affairs. However, not all people's choices were enthusiastic about this idea. Like, why should we create a whole ministry for this category, if there is a Ministry of Social Policy and the State Service for War Veterans and participants in an anti-terrorist operation? Despite the fact that the parliament has made a decision, the government started work, attracted public activists, the veterans themselves, the establishment of the department is delayed for several reasons.

There is an official information that the faction of the "Bloc of Petro Poroshenko" has supported the candidacy of Iryna Friz for the post of Minister for Veterans Affairs. This was reported by the press service of the political force. Such a decision was adopted unanimously during the meeting of the faction.

Related: Clashes near Parliament: 15 of 111 detained have veteran cards

According to sources 112.ua, Friz agreed to become a minister. Candidates for this post were Crimean ex-prime minister People's Deputy Serhiy Kunitsyn, as well as odious Valentine Manko. However, the candidacy of Manko caused a scandal among the veterans, and Kunitsyn also did not inspire people's deputies.

However, as sources in the Cabinet told us, Prime Minister Groysman is in no hurry with the creation of the new department, as it claims some of the powers of the Ministry of Social Policy, headed by his colleague Andriy Reva. Also, he opposes candidature of Iryna Friz, because his position does not apply to his person.

Another source said that Ms. Friz, as supported by the veterans themselves, and the active military personnel, she received a certain authority among them. The People's Deputy participated in the promotion and supported the bill on the creation of the Special Operations Forces. Plus, she still headed the permanent delegation of Ukraine to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

If the minister of veterans is not appointed before the parliamentary vacations, the creation of the ministry is postponed to the next year. If the minister is appointed right now, within 45 days a competition will be opened for the secretary of state. The Secretary of State is recruiting staff, and the Minister is developing a budget for 2019. If all of this is postponed, then nothing will happen in time, says the interviewee of 112.ua.

Related: UN: 2700 civilians died since the outbreak of hostilities in Donbas region

Oksana Havrilyuk (the chairman of the board of the charity fund "Information and coordination center," the reserve colonel, is responsible for communication and work in the regions): Ukraine does not have a single state policy on veterans and a single center that would develop and implement this policy. Today, we have almost 350 thousand participants in the Russian-Ukrainian war. In the future, the Ministry of Veterans Affairs should deal with the category of persons – about 1.7 million people. The state sees the veteran as a consumer of certain benefits, and we are talking about creating a "ministry of opportunities." This Ministry will be engaged in a qualitative return to normal life of those who passed the war. We are talking about qualitative rehabilitation, medical care, career, socialization, honoring our defenders, forming the image of a veteran.

Denys Podanchuk (member of the Council of Volunteers of the Ministry of Defense, an analyst at the Public Hub, head of the analyst subgroup at the Project Office for the creation of the Ministry of Veterans Affairs):

750 territorial bodies deal with the veterans, not including the Pension Fund, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Health. All the work is done on paper, there are very few automated systems. Yes, we can create a ministry, this is not a very big problem, we can rewrite the provisions for departments, recruit people, automate the ministry. But the real work is done in the field, where 5 people sit, in 2-3 rooms and do not communicate with each other, because each department deals with several benefits, services, and payments.

Oksana Havrilyuk: It will be an optimization of everyone who is related to the veterans, the unification of them into a single system. Veterans will receive a new ministry. The cabinet will be conditionally called "e-veteran" like the banking system, it is tied to your payment card, and you can do anything: order a ticket, a service, get information, sign up for courses, etc.

Denys Podanchuk: The new ministry suggests dealing with 20 benefits, services and payments. For example, the provision of statuses, payments before May 5. The Ministry of Veterans does not take away free medicines, for it is a privilege that it does not administer, but simply monitors from the outside.

Related: Ukrainian military claims new area in Donbas

Now we collect information on the territorial bodies of social protection about how many employees are dealing with the veterans, what percentage of time is spent, what information it takes, what does it do with this information, to whom it transmits, what proposals or claims it has, etc. Then a database will be compiled from this.

We plan to make the principle of a single window. Single window plus a single automated system, plus identification card, plus an application in the smartphone. Let us jump one year ahead - wherever you go, there must be a QR code everywhere, at any pharmacy, for example. It is very simple. The most difficult thing now is the huge amount of data that we have, to translate into a single system.

Vitaliy Kuzmenko (ATO veteran of 2014-2016, coordinator of the commemoration of the memory of defenders of Ukraine and cooperation with the non-state sector of the project office for the creation of the Ministry of Veterans Affairs of Ukraine): The problem is that the country does not clearly define the term "veteran". We have several laws that concern veterans of military service, veterans of war, and within the framework of these laws, there is a list of different categories.

Ministry of Veterans Affairs will deal fully with the category of "veterans of war": respectively, participants in hostilities, war invalids and war participants. Also, they will be veterans of military service of law enforcement agencies, which have served for 20 years or more. There is a law on fighters for the independence of Ukraine, the Ministry can also deal with the UPA fighters. The Ministry of Veterans Affairs will also deal with veteran families because it is necessary to work together. One of the primary tasks for us is the preparation of a new comprehensive law on veterans, which will clearly define the concept and categories of veterans because different categories have different needs.

Related: Poroshenko, Guterres discuss deployment of UN peacekeeping mission in Donbas

Yaroslav Pavlovsky (coordinator of the project "When the war is over," is working towards the heroization of the image of the veteran): Do not regard the Ministry of Veterans Affairs as the Ministry of Social Policy for veterans. Here we must proceed from the main point: the average age of a veteran of the Ukrainian-Russian war is about 35 years. The main task of the Ministry of Veterans Affairs is to stimulate this person, to socialize to a normal life so that he is not a recipient of social services, but a person with an active lifestyle. So far, unfortunately, our trips to the regions and communication with the veterans show their greatest claim: why should Ukraine create a ministry and spend our money, better give this money to us. Our task is to make these people different. And this should be handled by the Ministry of Veterans Affairs. Yes, the social direction is huge, but there are additional directions - heroization and reverence.

Oksana Havrilyuk: We thought about developing a bill that would regulate the issues, starting with the warning of relatives about the death. Because in civilized countries the algorithm of actions is clearly prescribed, and our algorithm is chaotic. As well as the ceremony of burial, in the future - the celebration of all events at the state or regional level. Where should be a plaque, where should be a sector for the military burial, who should take care of the graves of the military! And we are already beginning work on this bill, without waiting for the creation of the Ministry of Veterans. We do not have a day of remembrance on the state level, the volunteers themselves organize these days. We held a roundtable with the clergy, with the families of the deceased servicemen, they said they would develop a joint prayer service for all faiths, it should be some lessons of memory in the school, and everyone says it is necessary, but the decision at the state level has not yet been taken.

Related: Russia to supply electricity to occupied Donbas for another year, - mass media

And even given that there are disputable issues with the date: someone talks about the Ilovaisk tragedy, someone about Debaltseve, about the death of the first military man in the day of the invasion of the Russian troops, even offered an alternative date, like in the US, - the last Monday of May.

Vitaliy Kuzmenko: There is also a separate problem with the journalists. Just look at the newsfeed. If there is a criminal situation, many journalists believe that it is necessary to emphasize the fact that it involves ATO fighters, and this would make the news more topical. At the same time, journalists themselves do not understand how this affects the veterans themselves, affects their perception of the society. Therefore, I think, it is necessary to conduct training for journalists, they should learn how to correctly cover the news on the ATO participants, veterans.

Related: Donbas veterans among detained for attack on Hungarian Culture Association, - Zakarpattia Head

Yaroslav Pavlovsky: There is a stereotype that ATO fighter is a bad employee because due to the posttraumatic stress disorder, we cannot predict how he will behave tomorrow. And we are talking about the fact that the war gave the person additional opportunities, knowledge, skills.

Oksana Havrilyuk: If they manage to form and reprogram it into the budget for 2019, everything will work after January 2019. This is the most optimistic option.

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