“No one gets left behind in the battlefield. Be it in Afghanistan under fire or back home when young men and women must learn to live anew after getting severely wounded, or when they simply have to cope with post-combat stress. There is nothing simple or easy in these stories.”
Toomas Hendrik Ilves
President of the Republic of Estonia
Estonia’s independence is not gained or sustained by itself: it is to be sustained on a daily basis by strengthening Estonia’s defence capability and international cooperation. Veterans are the wounded soldiers and soldiers who have fought for Estonia’s freedom in international military operations and they fully deserve the support of the whole society. Over 19 years the Estonian Republic has sent its soldiers to Croatia, Lebanon, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Central African Republic. Our soldiers have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, they have secured ferries in the Gulf of Aden, and they have participated in building up the Mali armed forces as part of a training mission. Estonian soldiers have been highly appreciated everywhere they have served.
These people, who are expected to be ready to make the greatest possible sacrifice for Estonia’s security, need assurance from Estonian society that their contribution is vital, recognized and appreciated. The support and concern of society helps veterans and their families to live through stressful and intensive periods of time.
The aim of the veterans’ policy is to create a sense of security in the servicemen of today and tomorrow by showing them that society cares about them and helps them and their families when they might need it. For social security measures, the main target groups are the servicemen killed or wounded in combat, and their family members. By now a first-rate rehabilitation and support system has been established. For the wounded, there are legal measures to ensure the financial support for coping with their lives and for relearning, as well as for medical treatment and rehabilitation services.
In addition, the government is planning to extend continuing education and relearning opportunities to all veterans to ensure a smoother transition into civilian life and the labour market. Also, all veterans receive support when buying homes (the warranty of the first payment is provided), as well as a higher active serviceman’s pension for their participation in international military operations.