New PTSD law excludes Cyprus veterans

The law will only apply 30 years retroactively

A large number of the 23,000 Danish soldiers who took part in the UN peacekeeping mission in Cyprus during and after the Cyprus Civil War will not be eligible to benefit from the upcoming law concerning soldiers who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The law, which will make it easier for soldiers suffering from PTSD to be granted compensation, will only apply 30 years retroactively back to 1984, which excludes a number of veteran groups, including a large number of the Cyprus vets who served there between 1964 and 1995.

“It’s obscene. The politicians may believe that it was peaceful, but it wasn’t,” Erik Tonny Hansen, the head of the Cyprus veterans association, Cypern-Veteranerne, told Avisen.dk. “Twenty-four Danish UN soldiers lost their lives in Cyprus. It’s differential treatment if all soldiers aren't encompassed by the law.”

The new law, which is expected to be approved by parliament this spring, will repeal the controversial six-month rule that has prevented veterans from claiming compensation for PTSD if they can’t document that they’ve seen a doctor about their condition within six months of returning home from the field.

When the law is passed, a soldier can use a new psychiatric doctor’s statement as proof, if it confirms that the PTSD was brought on by a military mission that the soldier took part in.

READ MORE: PTSD compensation not enough, veterans say

Political will lacking
Poul Rosenkjær, a Danish UN soldier in Cyprus from 1974 to 1976, said that the law should apply to all veterans.

“Five of the men I went out with came home in a coffin,” Rosenkjær told Avisen.dk. “When we arrived home we were checked out at the city hospital, but the only thing the doctors checked for was if we still had our arms and legs intact. There was no psychological help back then.”

But it doesn’t look like the Cyprus veterans will see any help from the politicians after all the parties in parliament backed the forthcoming law. Dansk Folkeparti (DF) is among the parties concerned that changing the 30-year limit will lead to an influx of drawn-out PTSD cases.

“There are already veterans who are waiting and waiting. If the Cyprus veterans are also to be part of it, it must happen via a later law,” Marie Krarup, a DF spokesperson, told Avisen.dk. “It’s not okay to keep dragging the process on.”

As it stands, only Cyprus veterans who served from 1984 to 1995 can be helped by the upcoming law.