Angry Norwegian veterans who have taken part in international military operations were organizing a protest outside the Norwegian Parliament (Stortinget) on Monday. They claim the government has let them down, and many are even turning in their medals.
The veterans complain of “poor treatment” by the Norwegian government for many years, while others are especially annoyed that they’re not receiving equal compensation for injuries sustained in the line of duty.
They’re angry that veterans injured before January 1 this year receive lower compensation, without the right to the same medical follow-up care, than soldiers hurt after January 1. Soldiers injured before 1978 have no clear provisions for follow-up care or compensation.
Veteran Jan William Steen has organized the protest and is demanding better rights for his fellow former soldiers.
“We must all receive equal compensation for equal injuries in this country,” Steen said. “We can’t differentiate among people in accordance with time of injury. I think that’s completely irresponsible.”
Steen himself is partially disabled with major sleep disturbances after traumatic experiences on military duty. Today his counterparts would be eligible for up to NOK 4.8 million worth of compensation and medical care, regardless of whether the injuries were physical or psychological.
The protest comes just a week after four Norwegian soldiers were killed in Afghanistan, and the government mounted a strong show of support for those serving in the country’s armed forces and assigned to NATO.
Government officials have said the new compensation programs put in place from January 1 were aimed at improving provisions for Norwegian military personnel, and noted that new laws don’t have retroactive effect.
It’s been acknowledged, however, that soldiers hurt before January 1 can receive lower compensation without the same rights to medical follow-up care, and that such differences can seem unfair.
Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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