Tribute 08 'emotional time'

Last updated 05:00 23/04/2009

FAMILY PRIDE: Decorated veteran Sam Christie with his vast collection of medals, including an MBE. Mr Christie spent two years in Korea, three in Malaya and one in Vietnam. INSET: Invercargill RSA welfare officer Bev Christie, Sam's wife, with her Queen's Service Medal, awarded for her 20 years' work with returned servicemen.

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For decorated Invercargill veteran Sam Christie, war was an ingrained part of life and you went where your country wanted you to go.

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Having spent two years in Korea, three in Malaya and one tour in Vietnam, Sam is dismissive of his contribution but his wife Bev says Tribute 08 was an emotional time for both of them.

"It was very emotional, very emotional. Sam can't walk far so we got a wheelchair out for him and I pushed it and I couldn't see where I was going because I was crying so much,'' she says.

Bev herself has worked tirelessly for almost 20 years helping veterans to claim war pensions and providing support where needed.

She was awarded a Queen's Service Medal in 2003 in recognition for her work but says there is plenty more still to be done.

With her husband suffering numerous health conditions including diabetes, which she puts down to exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam and the anti-malarial drug Paladrin soldiers were forced to take in Malaya, Bev believes more needs to be done for veterans with health problems.

The list of medical conditions accepted to have been caused by Agent Orange needed to be added to as there are far more diseases certainly caused by exposure to the toxic compound than are presently covered, she says.

As it stands, the "acceptance list'' numbers just five: chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, soft tissue sarcoma, non-hodgkin's lymphoma, hodgkin's disease and chloracne.

Despite calling for more coverage for vets, ultimately money is not the answer, Bev says.

For many the wounds are too deep, too painful for anything to make up for the suffering.

"You can kind of throw money at a situation like we've seen happen but it isn't going to make the situation better because some of them aren't going to get better.''

- The Southland Times


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