ST JOHN’S, Antigua – The Antigua & Barbuda Ex-Servicemen Association is widening its scope to do a lot more for retired veterans and other service men.
The 50-member strong body, now in the process of acquiring funds to repair its new digs, will be lobbying for pensions for members who are not adequately provided for.
Secretary of the organisation Keith Eastmond said most of the veterans who would have retired and return to the Caribbean region are seemingly left to fend for themselves, dependent only on whatever pension they received locally.
Eastmond said those who would have served during World War II and lived in the United Kingdom are benefitting far better.
He indicated that he is currently working with one particular individual to see what possible assistance these persons could be given.
“In the case of the guy that I am dealing with, he served in Italy and North Africa. I am trying to find out whether he can get any sort of war pension, if not a pension a lump sum because these are people who put their lives on the line for our freedom,” Eastmond said.
He said most of his members are still gainfully employed in different sectors. He adds that his main concern is for the senior citizens, most of whom are not benefitting from outside financial assistance.
The plan is to divide the island into zones with members of the executive of the association providing technical assistance to the veterans living in each zone.
The association will also be embarking on a series of fund-raisers both locally and regionally as they seek close to a quarter of a million dollars to finance its new home.
According to Eastmond, the government has approved the use of the former Officer’s Barracks in Victoria Park as the association’s headquarters.
Originally known as The Ex-Servicemen’s Commission prior to its re-establishment in 2004, The Antigua & Barbuda Ex-Servicemen’s Association was formed in 1945 as the Antigua Legion of British Commonwealth Leagues by Antiguans & Barbudans returning from World War II.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)