DVA to fight medal winning veteran in court over pension
DVA to fight medal winning veteran in court over pension

DVA wage cruel war on elderly veteran over pension

A World War II Digger who also served in Korea and Vietnam is being dragged through a tribunal by the ­Department of Veterans' Affairs which has unleashed top-flight, taxpayer funded lawyers on him.

Former Captain John Hutcheson, a Military Cross recipient, applied for a higher pension from $500 a fortnight to $1400 but will now have to go to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).

 

92-year-old Military Cross recipient John Hutcheson. Picture: Tim Hunter.
92-year-old Military Cross recipient John Hutcheson. Picture: Tim Hunter.


The veteran will be required to see three independent doctors, has been requested to produce employment records going back in excess of 27 years and has had medical records from the past 10 years subpoenaed to the AAT.

His lawyer Greg Isolani said the matter, which is still going through a review process and is expected to continue until mid 2020, has taken a "heavy toll" on Mr Hutcheson.

 

Military Cross recipient John Hutcheson worked until he was 91. Picture: Tim Hunter.
Military Cross recipient John Hutcheson worked until he was 91. Picture: Tim Hunter.

"John stopped work, on his ­account, at age 91 because of his ­accepted war caused conditions and is seeking a slightly higher pension rate that he is entitled to," Mr Isolani.

"They have already indicated they are not willing to mediate and settle anything earlier. They already have special counsels acting in the process and when it proceeds to a hearing they will engage a barrister."

The Department of Veterans' Affairs has spent more than $20,000 to unleash on medico-legal firm Sparke Helmore, which has a track record of employing top barristers to take on struggling, unrepresented veterans.

And the department has already spent more than $5.6 million since 2016 on that legal firm.

 

 

 

Minister for Veterans Affairs Darren Chester with PM Scott Morrison at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture Kym Smith
Minister for Veterans Affairs Darren Chester with PM Scott Morrison at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture Kym Smith

"This process and thinking about it all has exhausted me and it has affected my mental health because I've being asked to find all these small ­details and it's things you don't have," Mr Hutcheson said.

Mr Isolani added: "There is a human cost to all this because you are putting someone who has been recognised for their service through all this. What do we do now as a society, spending this sort of money on distinguished veterans who have very little dignity now left."

Mr Hutcheson is still employed as a professor of engineering at UNSW.

 

 

Major John M Hutcheson MC in 1955. . Supplied
Major John M Hutcheson MC in 1955. . Supplied

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