(VAG), has bemoaned the financial stress old soldiers are experiencing in paying healthcare bills.
Ex W.O.1. Bright Segbefia, Public Relations Officer, VAG, said hitherto, military personnel, veterans, their wives and children below 18 years received free medical care at the 37 Military Hospital, but that had changed, with veterans having to pay for healthcare services.
“The biggest challenge facing veterans is healthcare. We used to visit the 37 Military Hospital for free medical care but now, the Hospital is more or less like a public facility where civilians also come to pay and seek healthcare. Sadly, veterans on admission now do not enjoy these benefits anymore. I don’t know when exactly this situation started, but of late, we are being made to pay our medical bills,” he lamented to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in an interview.
He said often, veterans, after they were discharged from the Hospital, submitted medical bills to the Headquarters of the Administration hoping for a reimbursement, but “these hopes are mostly not met because VAG does not have the financial muscle to absorb the medical bills. The bills are sent to GAF…
Ex W.O.1. Segbefia said the Administration was being managed solely on its Internally Generated Fund (IMF) and meagre subventions from government and could not take care of medical bills of veterans.
“…We even stopped buying coffins for them. The Administration pays a token of GHC300, which used to be GHC100 in 2017, in support of purchase of coffin for burial of veterans.”
He said the Administration, under the leadership of its Executive Director, Captain Ben Edmund Duah (Rtd.), was making efforts to generate sufficient revenue to pay a minimum of GHc1000 to support bereaved families towards the purchase of coffins for deceased members.
Ex W.O.1 said the Administration was also developing some of its plots of land to raise enough revenue to support the welfare of veterans, particular issues of healthcare.
He said the Executive Director was developing the Veterans Clinic at the Amasaman Legion Village for the exclusive use of all veterans and their families.
A source at the Ghana Armed Forces said staff and veterans do not pay for medical services at the Hospital, “perhaps, medication and other services that are not available at the Hospital.”
The source said those bills were normally submitted for reimbursement.
“Military persons and veterans on admission at the Hospital do not pay for anything. It is outpatients who are given prescriptions when the services are not available and they submit claims later.”
“Yes, payment of claims delay but efforts are being made to handle the situation to ameliorate their conditions,” the source said.
The Veterans Administration, Ghana, is made up of former servicemen and women of the Gold Coast Regiment and the Ghana Armed Forces.
It was formerly known as Veterans Association of Ghana, but the name was changed in 2012, after an Act of Parliament was passed making the Veterans Association a state agency under the Ministry of Defense.
VAG started originally as the Gold Coast Legion and was formed in 1944 as a branch of what was then known as the British Empire Services League, now the Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League.
Its first patron was the Governor Sir Alan Burns. It later became the Ghana Legion on the Gold Coast attaining its independence from the United Kingdom.
The legal basis of the Administration is currently bound by a 1974 decree of the National Redemption Council, the NRCD 285. There are currently proposals for its overhaul.