Minister proposes better benefits for retired soldiers

BATTLE CRY::The proposal included subsidies for visits to the doctor and school fees for soldiers who finish four years of service, but was attacked as expensive

By Rich Chang  /  Staff Reporter

Tue, May 17, 2011 - Page 3

The head of the Veterans Affairs Commission yesterday said volunteer soldiers who have completed four years of service should be entitled to special treatment after leaving the military, adding that such a policy would encourage young Taiwanese to join the proposed all-volunteer military.

Veterans Affairs Commission Minister Tseng Jing-ling (曾金陵) told a meeting of the legislature’s National Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee that the commission had proposed that volunteer soldiers who have completed 10 years of service should receive treatment now reserved for veterans, while volunteer soldiers who have completed four, six or eight years of service should receive special treatment after they leave the service.

Under the proposal, Tseng said, soldiers who complete four years of service would receive benefits such as subsidies for tertiary education, visits to the doctor and for finding employment, as well as other welfare programs.

However, those perks would not be indefinite, he said.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators said the cost of the policy to the treasury would be unreasonable.

DPP Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) told the meeting that while he did not oppose volunteer soldiers who had served four years receiving some sort of preferential treatment, the policy unveiled by Tseng appeared to be intended to boost President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) re-election campaign.

Furthermore, the policy ran counter to claims by the government that it was finding it difficult to fund the proposed professional military program, Tsai said.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) said no one would consider being a soldier if their treatment after retirement was poor.

KMT Legislator Herman Shuai (帥化民) said the commission should develop a policy which would assist soldiers who have completed four, six or eight years of service with job training, as well as help them move into new occupations, rather than just provide them with subsides or pensions.