War Vets Association forced to cut financial support
Difficult financial times will result in less money for the Island’s remaining veterans, according to Jack Lightbourn of the Bermuda War Veterans Association.
Speaking yesterday to the Hamilton Rotary Club in advance of Remembrance Day this Friday, Mr Lightbourn said that the organisation will have to reduce the financial support it gives to veterans by more than 50 percent.
“In November, the people we are supporting who usually receive $850 will receive $500,” he said. “We can’t do anything about it. We are lucky we were able to do what we did.”
Right now, he said the organisation provides funds for three Bermudian veterans who served overseas and 12 widows of veterans.
Among the issues facing the organisation was that it had invested heavily into shares of Butterfield Bank, which has undergone financial turmoil in recent years.
“The worst of it was a loss of $45,000 of income,” Mr Lightbourn said. “That’s the part that really hurt.”
Another issue, he said, is that the majority of donations the organisation receives comes from seniors.
“I’m sure that a lot of people will continue to help us as they have always done, but many of the people who are supporters are people of our own age and a lot of them are gone now,” he said.
“The families don’t seem to come in behind and the kids don’t have the same feelings we do.”
Regarding his own experiences, Mr Lightbourn spoke about his time serving in the Royal Navy near the close of the Second World War.
He described travelling on a minesweeper with a convoy when they were attacked by a group of German U-boats.
“It was just half an hour before dawn and all of a sudden this enormous grey flash went up four miles away,” he said.
“A tanker loaded with high-octane fuel was struck. I can still see that fire going up 1,000ft in the air.”
He said only a few months into his service, the war came to an end, but he remained enrolled until the end of his three-year service.
“I saw enough to know it was often not very pleasant, but I had a lot of fun too,” he said.