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Dutch East Indies veterans on leading edge for veterans’ recognition

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

THE HAGUE – The veterans of the Dutch East Indies campaigns, along with those of the New Guinea conflict and the Korea War, have laid the foundation for the emerging policies for Veterans’ issues in the Netherlands. The lack of such policies became painfully obvious one again when veterans of service in the Balkans in recent times needed help but had difficulty getting it. Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende acknowledged that the Indies veterans literally had to cut through a ‘forest of indifference and bureaucracy.’ Successive groups of veterans have benefited from the trail they have blazed. The recent Veterans Day again attracted many people to The Hague but local groups are also organizing their own activities. The Netherlands now has about 130,000 veterans who served in one campaign or other, usually far away from home. Currently, Dutch soldiers are serving with missions in such places as Afghanistan, Bosnia, Somalia and Chad.