The Norwegian military faces more criticism over an alleged lack of follow-up and support for veterans returning from overseas assignments. Now the state Auditor General claims the veterans aren’t getting the care and counseling they need.
A new report from the office of the Auditor General (Riksrevisjon) confirms earlier criticism of how veterans have been welcomed home after often rough duty in international forces in such places as Afghanistan, Chad or the Balkans.
“I think it’s a very sad report,” Auditor General Per-Kristian Foss, a former finance minister for the Conservative Party, told news bureau NTB. “The criticism applies to a small group of people, but their treatment is not in line with the Parliament’s intention that they should have high priority.”
More than 100,000 Norwegian men and women have taken part in international military operations since World War II. Among them are 22,000 who served in Lebanon and 8,000 who served in the NATO-led ISAF forces in Afghanistan.
The Auditor General determined that its survey of returning veterans showed that no system has been established to make sure they receive the physical and psychological assessments and care they should have. Any care offered, for example for post traumatic stress, varies widely depending on where the veteran lives, according to the survey.
“We found that some veterans have had to wait up to two years to receive treatment,” Foss said. He said many veterans also are faced with health care workers that are ill-equipped to deal with trauma from war situations. Some veterans also have trouble finding new jobs, and don’t get the help they need from unemployment agency NAV.
Foss said the military also often breaks its own rules regarding time spent at home before soldiers are sent out on new missions abroad. The rules call for active duty abroad of just three months, followed by at least double that back home. The survey showed violations of the rule in 44 percent of military assignments.