October 2, 2022

By Ralph Sesay
The Deputy Minister of Defence, Republic of Sierra Leone Military Forces, Simeon Sheriff, has told newsmen that the Government is keen on enacting a Veterans Act to comprehensively handle all welfare issues relating to ex-military men and women of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces.
The Deputy Defence Minister made this disclosure while addressing newsmen during a press briefing at the Ministry of Defence headquarters in Freetown. The press briefing was well attended by the Chief of Defence Staff, Lt. General Brima Sesay, the Director General in the Ministry of Defence and other senior officials of the military and the Ministry of Defence.
The Deputy Defence Minister continued that, as a war wounded victim and an ex-military man, he is very interested in creating a nexus between the active and non-active members of the service, which, he noted, has been absent over the years. He lauded the support of the President, which has been very encouraging in the last one year.
Major Yayah Brima, Staff Officer Grade II, Defence Public Relations and Information at the Ministry of Defence, who earlier on read four key messages, noted that, over the past few weeks, the Ministry of Defence has been inundated with media queries over the recent claims of enhanced pension by Wounded-In-Action (WIA) ex-soldiers.
He gave journalists a background to the issues of 836 recorded WIAs in the country, and clearly disclosed what has been done with regards paying and addressing all their claims. Major Brima disclosed that the Government and the Military leadership have very good plans to address the ameliorating situation of the WIAs.
The Chief of Defence Staff, Lieutenant General Brima Sesay, cautioned members of the press to deal cautiously with issues dealing with ex-military people and always crosscheck whatever they hear or get from them. He disclosed that the Government is fully committed to permanently address the issues/challenges facing them with the introduction of the Veterans Act, which will comprehensively deal with all their welfare issues.
Brigadier General Alhassan Bangura, who is the Defence Spokesman, and Assistant Chief of Defence Staff, Defence Public Relations, earlier on welcomed guests and disclosed the purpose of the press conference. He emphasized the fact that they, at the Military, have always been careful in addressing issues bordering on the military against the backdrop that the institution is very critical.
“We will always respond when we have all the facts from the various unit heads,” Brigadier Bangura noted.
It will be recalled that the issue of the welfare of the Wounded-In-action soldiers has been very serious as many of them, who have suffered life threatening injuries, have been left to care for themselves and their families. Many have died in the quest to have reasonable packages to make the lives and those of their families better.
President Julius Maada Bio and the Deputy Minister of Defence, who are themselves ex-servicemen, are determined to turn things and bring smiles into the faces of these patriots, who have shed their precious blood for sustainable peace in the country.
The enactment of the Veterans Act, like in most other countries in the sub region, would bring an end to the misery in which these ex-soldiers find themselves.