Australia's submarine top secret service to be recognized

12:39, May 12, 2010      

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The Australian government on Wednesday recognized the contribution of some 890 former submariners in the secret missions and start treating it as qualifying service, making them eligible for significant benefits such as the veterans gold health care card.

Veterans affairs minister Alan Griffin said this would cost 11. 1 million dollars Australian dollars (9.94 million U.S. dollars) over four years and went beyond the Clarke review of veteran entitlements, which recommended that their service be treated as non-warlike hazardous.

The government has also moved to treat service of Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) personnel at Ubon, Thailand in June and July 1962 as qualifying service, extending their eligibility for veteran benefits.

While the government has been expanding veteran categories, overall veteran numbers were dwindling with the passing of the World War II generation.

"Sadly over the last year Department of Veterans Affairs client numbers have fallen from 415,000 to approximately 380,000," Griffin said.

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