The Netherlands Veterans Institute focuses on all former Dutch military personnel who served the Kingdom of the Netherlands in theatres of war or in international operations, and who have since left the service.
Every day, the Netherlands Veterans Institute receives many different questions and requests. It serves as a front desk, with its departments and experts answering the questions of veterans and their family members, journalists, teachers, politicians and various other parties. The philosophy of the Netherlands Veterans Institute is that no veteran’s request for assistance or question will go unheeded.
Every armed forces veteran can register at the Netherlands Veterans Institute. He or she will receive a Veterans’ Card offering benefits, including a free subscription to ‘Checkpoint’, the veterans’ monthly magazine, up to four free train tickets per year and discount, for example on insurances, holiday travel and museum visits. The institute also provides information on reunion facilities, commemorations, medal awards, addresses of veterans’ organisations and pension claims, and on all other questions related to veterans’ affairs.
One of the main objectives of the Netherlands Veterans Institute is to promote the social recognition of veterans. Several projects contribute to this. Since 2005, for example, the institute has been developing a project for schools, the ‘Stories of Veterans’. Veterans visit primary and secondary schools and share their history and experiences with the students. The ‘Veterans with a Mission’ project involves veterans who return to their former area of deployment and who organise projects on site in the fields of humanitarian support or development assistance. A database with over 1,000 extensive interviews with veterans from all conflicts the Dutch armed forces took part in has also been developed and is accessible for researchers, media organisations and other interested parties.
Since 2005, on an annual basis and on the last Saturday of June, the Dutch Veterans’ Day takes place at the Malieveld and in the Dutch Parliament building in The Hague. In addition, many Dutch cities organise local events for the veterans in their community or region. The events are actively supported by the Netherlands Veterans Institute. In connection with this, other interested parties can contact the institute with questions about veterans; in this respect, the organization regularly serves as a point of contact for journalists and television producers, who are preparing a report or a documentary on veterans’ issues.
Support and care: made to measure
Most soldiers who have served in a theatre of war or in an international operation are perfectly able to cope with their experiences by themselves, without professional assistance. During the coping process, support from significant others (friends, relatives, former colleagues) is very important. This, however, is not always sufficient for every veteran. Experiences undergone during war or international operations can be extremely confronting. Their aftermath can extend for many years after leaving service and can also affect spouses and children; they have to deal, in their own way, with the adverse consequences of the war or peacekeeping experiences of their partner or father. In this context, every member of the family will have a need for more information, or, eventually, for professional assistance.
“Veteranenloket” / Veteran Office
Dutch veterans, Dutch military war and military service victims, and their families are entitled to optimal care and other services. The Dutch “Veteranenloket” provides access to existing care and services provided by the Ministry of Defence, the Netherlands Veterans Institute, the National Health System for Veterans (LZV), the ABP Pension Fund (ABP) and the Veterans Platform (VP). The “Veteranenloket” is for immediate help also accessible outside office hours.
Telephone: 0031 343 744178
“Veteranenloket” is powered by National System for Veterans’ Care (LZV)
Within the National System for Veterans’ Care (LZV), eleven highly-qualified institutions for mental health care provide comprehensive care for veterans. Nine of these are civilian, while three are part of the Netherlands Ministry of Defence. The services of the LZV also include pastoral care and social services, as well as specialised psychotherapeutic or psychiatric assistance, ranging from short term ambulatory treatment to intensive clinical care. The concept of stepped care forms the cornerstone: care should be as direct and as close to the client as possible, and as intensive and specialised as necessary. This system is organised into three geographical regions, allowing the LZV to provide direct, adequate and made-to-measure care in the region where the veteran is living.
Expertise and research
An important task of the Netherlands Veterans Institute is to collect scientific information and promote scientific research on issues that are relevant to veterans’ affairs. To this end, the institute has its own Centre for Research and Expertise.
A small team with a multidisciplinary professional background, some of its members being from the Ministry of Defence and others from the civilian sector, keeps track of research and of relevant scientific publications, both in the Netherlands and in other countries. This information is processed and distributed in the form of Fact Sheets and thematic files, via the website and in articles and books. In addition, staff members are available to give lectures and provide courses and training.
Information on ongoing research is recorded in two ‘Research Guides’, one on health and wellbeing, the other on social recognition. The Centre for Research and Expertise also initiates its own research projects which, for example, investigate possibilities for improving the services and care for veterans, examine the needs of veterans, and look into the positive aspects of military experiences. The Netherlands Veterans Institute has a substantial collection of biographical narratives by over 1,000 armed forces veterans that can be consulted by professionals and other parties for various purposes.
With this information, the Centre for Research and Expertise can serve veterans and relatives, as well as social workers, researchers, policy makers, teachers and journalists. Veterans may, for example, want to know what is true of rumours that circulate from time to time about health risks resulting from deployment in specific areas, or may wish to be informed about rules, benefits and opportunities for assistance. Likewise, professionals may be looking for scientific information related to the situation of their client, and policy makers and journalists can find background information and analyses.