‘Mr. Turner, you haven’t lost anything’
War veteran Henry Turner says he's now “got something to smile about” after being told he would continue to receive his war veteran pension after all.
The 85-year-old, who represented the country while serving with the British Naval Airforce in the Second World War, is relieved islanders rallied around to help him get to the bottom of a misunderstanding about his entitlement.
Mr Turner feared the worst when he opened a letter this week telling him the Department of Social Insurance had withdrawn his war veteran pension.
The letter stated those who receive pensions must meet certain criteria to be deemed an eligible Bermudian and Mr. Turner believed his nationality was being questioned.
Mr Turner was born in England, had lived in Bermuda for more than a decade before his war service and his mother was Bermudian.
The Royal Gazette reported on Wednesday that Mr Turner was so upset that he planned to appeal the decision and if his pension was not restored he said he would demand his name be taken off the war memorial on Front Street in Hamilton.
But it turns out that a lack of communication led to the misunderstanding and Government has now confirmed that Mr. Turner will continue to receive his pension.
Mr. Turner said: “I can't believe it, everything is all right, I will get the cheque each month as usual.
“It was all about a lack of communication, I hadn't lost anything after all.
“I'm feeling really upbeat, I feel really good, I've got something to smile about.”
The Department of Social Insurance tried to contact all war veterans to invite them to personal meetings to discuss their eligibility.
However, Mr Turner did not receive the phone calls as he was off-island and a letter was mistakenly sent to his former address.
The first he heard from the Department of Social Insurance was a letter, dated March 1, telling him about the new interpretation of the law.
Carol Everson, a welfare case worker for the Royal British Legion, went to his assistance after reading the story in this newspaper. She took Mr. Turner from his home to the office of the Department of Social Insurance to resolve the matter.
Mr Turner met benefits manager Ronald Smith who reassured him that nothing would change.
Mr Turner said: “Carol Everson phoned me up and said she wanted to see me right away to help explain everything. She said she was going to fix this all.
“Then I heard they had been trying to get hold of me, but I had no idea, they must have been using my old address.
“I was told ‘Mr. Turner, you haven't lost anything'. If I have any more problems, I just have to phone him.”
Mr Smith said the Department of Social Insurance had tried to reach out to war veterans before March 1 to tell them about the change, but Mr Turner was the only one they didn't hear back from.
He said: “The problem was we couldn't contact him. All this could have been avoided if Mr Turner had just picked up the phone and called us, it could have been sorted out in 15 minutes.
“But I'm happy it's now been resolved as Mr Turner qualifies (for a war veterans pension). Mr Turner is feeling very happy about it and we're happy too.”
As an added bonus for Mr Turner, Mrs Everson is now working with him to see if he is entitled to any additional pension payments from the UK.
Mrs Everson said: “I wanted to help as I know the Government are trying to level the playing field and make sure everyone gets what they are entitled to.
“Sometimes war veterans don't realise what they are entitled to both here and overseas.”
Anyone who has any questions about their War Veterans Pension should contact the Department of Social Insurance on 294-9242. Mrs Everson is also available to answer questions on 533-4567.