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Ex-soldiers urged to behave

BONTE SEEPI
Many soldiers face difficulty in coping with life outside the military
PALAPYE: Former soldiers who are members of Botswana Defence Force Retired Members Association (BDFRMA) have been urged to uphold their standards after retirement.

Addressing BDFRMA members at their ninth annual general meeting, Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Shaw Kgathi noted that even post their retirement, many of them still contribute meaningfully to the country’s developments.

He said it shows that the BDF veterans are deploying all the skills they learnt as army officers during their term. He urged them not to get discouraged saying they are known by accuracy and discipline in doing things, adding that some of them are said to be ill-mannered.

“Use your skills to influence the people that you are working with. I would like to remind you that integrity of any profession is dependent on the professional conduct of its member.  I appeal to you, let’s conduct ourselves in a manner considered upright, you have the capacity to lead and guide the people,” Kgathi said.

He also appealed for the ex-soldiers to help the government in character moulding and building of young people, which can be useful at bootcamps. Kgathi who is also MP for Bobonong revealed that out of 10,000 retired army officers, only 1,200 are members of the organisation. He therefore requested the association to appeal to the 8,000 army veterans to join them so as to speak with one voice and work together.

“This concerns me because reintegration outside military life is difficult,” he said.

Meanwhile, Kgathi told the veterans that Cabinet has approved the establishment of a Veterans Affairs Unit to provide for the benefits and welfare of military

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veterans. He said the unit would put in place programmes to prepare service men and women for post military service.

He added that work has already been accomplished in drafting the design ad manning structures of the unit.

He also said when he asumed his post in 2014, he found a backlog of 63 appeals by former members of the BDF on issues of pension and welfare, saying that as of now there are only 10 cases being processed.

He said it has given the Defence Council an opportunity to concentrate on other crucial issues. BDF deputy commander, Major General Gotsileone Morake reminded members not to lose focus on the objective of the organisation. He emphasised that it should not be a platform for complaints, but legitimate contributions of army developments.

“Your concerns are our concerns so let’s utilise the association as agreed when it was created. Your voice is greater when you are together and you will have greater access as more doors will be open for your welfare,” he said.

Furthermore, Morake reminded ex-soldiers that their welfare is not about money or loans but standard of living, advocacy, access to BDF facilities, security as well as sense of belonging.

BDFRMA chairman, Major General Bakwena Oitsile appreciated the minister’s contributions towards the establishment of Veterans Affairs Unit. However he said that they are still struggling to attract more members for the association, but promised that they shall work hard to ensure that they join.



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