The Irish United Nations Veterans Association (IUNVA) was formed at a meeting on the 10th Feb 1990 when a group of personnel led by Maj Gen Vincent Savino (Retd) and currently President of (IUNVA) identified a need to look after Veterans and their families who had fallen on hard times and where in some instances the State had failed them. The constitution of IUNVA was ratified at its first Annual General Conference in October 1990 and today IUNVA is a recognised Veterans Association, not for profit, and based on the principle of volunteerism providing support to others which is in line with the ethos and values of our veterans.
As a registered charity IUNVA is compliant with all governance structures as per the Charity Regulator and has in place a robust Management Structure where the Executive Committee, who are elected at IUNVA’s Annual General Convention, run the Association on a day-to-day basis. IUNVA is a non-denominational, non-political, and non-sectarian Association where membership is open to any Irish Resident who had successfully completed a tour of duty with a UN Force or Organisation whether he or she has retired or not.
IUNVA is organised on a regional basis with twenty-one posts located throughout the country many within or adjacent to Military Installations where members affiliated to their local Posts gather, provide support to one another, and indeed reminisce about overseas trips on which they served. Most importantly it is through this network that the Executive Committee of IUNVA manage and coordinate Post activities across the full spectrum.
IUNVA remains unique within the veterans’ organisations in that among our more than 1200 members we have both retired and serving members. HQ of IUNVA is in No 1 Post Arbour House where we recently opened a museum dedicated to our Veterans service overseas, which hopefully some of you might get to visit in the future.
Aims and Key Objectives of IUNVA:
- To ensure that the memory of those who gave their lives in the cause of peace on United Nations service is not forgotten.
- To provide advice and assistance for members and their families.
- To encourage, help and assist in the treatment of members who have been affected by adversely affected their United Nations service.
- To establish, maintain and encourage contact with associations similarly constituted in Ireland and other countries.
- To promote public understanding of the Irish role in the United Nations operations.
- To promote and protect the interests of its members.
- To establish a scheme or schemes to benefit members and their dependents.
- To rent, take or lease, or otherwise acquire property for the purposes of the Association and to invest the funds of the Association in such property or in investment accounts.
- To publish pamphlets, periodicals and other documents for the purpose of furthering the interests of the Association and its members.
For the purpose of promotion and achievement of the above objectives; to raise money by subscription of its members and/or raise funds by other lawful means that may be necessary from time to time; and to secure repayment of any money in any manner whatsoever.
As a volunteer organisation all funding received is used to run the Association in a professional manner and in the best interests of its members. The Department of Defence (DOD) make an annual contribution of €11,000.00 towards the running of IUNVA, which is small in the context of what we deliver for our members. A case to increase this funding to €50,0000.00 has been with the Minister for some time now and we still await a positive outcome. I do however wish to acknowledge funding of €88,000.00 provided by the DOD from the dormant account a significant portion of which was used to refurbish our newly opened IUNVA museum.
IUNVA members with the assistance of Finance Branch DOD Galway pay a monthly subscription of €2.00 which is a valuable revenue stream. IUNVA are also indebted to donations which it receives and a recent contribution of €6000.00 from the Leopardstown Park Hospital Trust was greatly appreciated. This funding was used to conduct a much need First Aid Mental Health Course for Post Welfare Officers who now have the skills set to allow them better support veterans with mental health issues resulting from their overseas service.
Weekly, IUNVA members are involved in a myriad of activities with the welfare of our members at its core. Ceremonially we support the families of veterans at funeral by providing appropriate military honours while the anniversary of veterans who died on overseas service is remembered on an annual basis. First Aid courses covering CPR/Defib are available to our members as required. IUNVA is actively involved in the provision of food parcels for members in need, particularly at Christmas time, and are grateful for the support received from various businesses. IUNVA provides accommodation for several UN Veterans in the Curragh and is actively looking at for more opportunities in this area. Support to Veterans with Mental Health and other associated issues remains a priority. IUNVA participate in all State and local ceremonial events in its distinctive green blazer with the blue beret of the United Nations. Regardless of affiliation IUNVA will always provide assistance to veterans and their families in need
Interaction with the Defence Forces, Department of Defence and Veterans Organiations
IUNVA maintains strong relationships with the Defence Forces with some of its members still serving. Liaison Officers are available in all Military Locations to assist IUNVA as the need arises. IUNVA receives excellent support from Brigade and Unit Commander in the provision of facilities for our members to conduct meetings and hold functions as required. The Defence Forces Benevolent Fund provides much needed funding to IUNVA on a case-by-case basis.
IUNVA continues to have good relationships with the Department of Defence having met Minister Simon Coveney TD and Secretary General Jacqui McCrum in the past twelve months. This interaction is much needed and appreciated. Funding, in the form of an annual subvention from the Department of Defence, which is governed by a Service Level Agreement remains an issue and our aspiration to appoint a full time Administrator to manage the ever-increasing activities of IUNVA will also depend on Financial Support from the Department of Defence. IUNVA continues to get excellent support from Pensions Section in Finance Branch Galway.
IUNVA has close relationships with The Association of Retired Commissioned Officers (ARCO) and the Organisation of National Ex-Service Personnel.
White Paper and Veterans Strategy:
Para 7.7 of the White Paper on Defence published in 2015 includes the following statement: there is scope during the currency of the White Paper to further develop supports available to existing personnel and veterans. This translated into Project 59 of the White Paper Implementation Plan.
To advance this on the 05 December 2018 the three veteran associations, the Irish United Nations Veterans Association (IUNVA) the Association of Commissioned Officers (ARCO) and the Organisation of Retired Ex-Service Personnel submitted a document titled Veterans Strategy to the then Minister with Responsibility for Defence, the Secretary General and Chief of Staff.
This Strategy has seven strategic goals namely:
- Interface with Department of Defence and Defence Forces.
- Transition from Military to Civilian Life.
- Accreditation of unique military skills
- Pensions and ancillary support.
- Medical Support.
- Social Housing.
- Recognition of Military Service.
To date no progress has been made in respect of advancing in a holistic manner the aims of this document despite it being a continuous Agenda item when meeting Department of Defence representatives. In Feb this year IUNVA was informed that Project 59 had been closed. This decision was very disappointing not least as it was taken without any reference to IUNVA and other veteran organisations. IUNVA remains hopeful that a Veterans Strategy will come to fruition in the short to medium term. This will require the support of many stakeholders not least our elected representatives.
Notwithstanding the development of this Strategy and subsequent policies to support it IUNVA strongly advocates for the immediate establishment of a Joint Office for Veterans Affairs supported by the Veterans Associations and resourced by the Defence Forces and Department of Defence. Such an Office with the capacity to link into other Government Departments, would provide Veterans with a platform through which issues of importance could be addressed by Policy Makers. IUNVA considers that the appointment of a Commissioner for Veterans Affairs, which would be in line with other European countries, would further demonstrate the State’s commitments to Veterans and the value it places on their outstanding service both on island and overseas.
Thank you for your attention.
Major General (Retd)