“The little support there is for veterans is largely due to the League”


Q – How did the core of the Fighters’ League Guard come about? THE MINISTER – It’s a former agency of the League of Fighters of the Great War, founded in 1921. The League was born, at national level, to support First World War fighters and the families of wounded soldiers. At the time, several agencies were formed and one of the first, or perhaps the first, would have been Pinhel. Guarda was founded in 1924, so it will be 100 years old. After the Overseas War, we also started supporting the Portuguese who fought in the former colonies and families. Even today, 70 or 80% of our members come from the war overseas. Q – How does the branch work and how many members does it currently have? THE MINISTER – We have 291 of them. Effective members of the Ligue des Combattants can be soldiers who have gone on a peacekeeping mission, ex-soldiers and soldiers still in force. We also have partners who support us, people who have not been in the army, but who support our mission – there are quite a few at the national level. Here we have partners from Guarda, Celorico da Beira, Almeida, Vilar Formoso, Trancoso, etc… Q – How do members contribute to the core? A – Everyone contributes when they wish to support the activities we carry out throughout the year. There are also the so-called emeritus members, who support the League of Fighters with all they want, namely money. They make donations that go to the League to support all fighters. Q – What activities does the Guarda core develop and have it programmed? THE MINISTER – One of our main missions is to support combatants, but the second is not to forget those who have fallen in the service of the country. Don’t forget the Guardsmen, especially those who fell in service in the Overseas War, in World War I and in peace support missions. In this sense, we never let symbolic dates pass without paying tribute to these fighters, especially during the armistice of the First World War, on November 11. We also always celebrate National Combatant Day, April 9, and the anniversary of the Battle of La Lys, during the First World War, where we honor the Portuguese fallen in combat. We also have medico-social and psychological support activities through the Center created in Beira Interior by the League, whose psychologists and social worker provide all the necessary support to members of the centers of Guarda, Manteigas, Belmonte, Gouveia, Covilha, etc. Q – What issues affect fighters? Is there a lack of support? A – One of the big problems they have is first of all that most of them have low pensions, like most Portuguese people. Many veterans do not know how to access all the support provided by the Instituto do Combatente, which was approved in 2020. Through the core, we fulfill the necessary conditions, contact the entities, namely the armed forces and the Ministry of Defense, always more than necessary, because most of them alone cannot. Neither by phone nor by email. Many of them don’t even have an email, so they can’t access or clarify their situation. There’s still a lot going on with military timekeeping. Some of them have not yet had this count made through the Ministry of Defence, which gives access to a subsidy which guarantees the veteran a support of 75, 100 or 150 euros, according to the time he has spent, for example, abroad. There are many who have not had access to it because they do not know how to deal with it and we support this work. Q – You spoke of the Day of the Fighter. Don’t you think this day ended up going unnoticed? What can be done to highlight this date? A – I think Fighter’s Day goes unnoticed by most citizens in the region. At the national level, not much will happen because there is a ceremony which is normally chaired by the President of the Republic. At Guarda we do everything we can. However, at the local level, what needed to be done not only by the nucleus, but by the local authorities, was to put more emphasis on these dates. All the more so now that we have the war on television every day… They should put more emphasis on these dates to reinforce a little belonging and support for national combatants. Even at the national level, little emphasis is placed, often resulting in dates falling into oblivion. Only the League and Hearts remember them. What could have been, like other evocations, is that the City Council and the Parish Council of Guarda organized a more important ceremony to highlight this day a little more. Q – How important is the League of Fighters? A – The League is increasingly important. At the national level, the support that has been provided by the various governments has been closely monitored and under pressure from the League. Veteran status is an example of this, it was the result of a struggle of years and years – the overseas war ended nearly 50 years ago and also many combatants from these new peacekeeping missions. However, the statute did not fully contemplate what the League was proposing, which was that no veteran should receive less than minimum wage. Many other proposals were also not accepted, but it was the League that lobbied national authorities for some support. What little there is, I think, owes a lot to the League of Fighters. _________________________________________________________________________

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL JOÃO FERREIRA

Chairman of the Fighters League Guard Core Board of Directors Age: 51 years old Natural: Germany (entered the Guard at one year) Job: Military Curriculum summary):He joined the Military Academy in 1989 and completed the course in 1994; He participated in peacekeeping missions, notably in Bosnia (1996), Timor (2000 and 2002), Afghanistan (2007) and Kosovo (2013); Favorite movie: “Gladiator” by Ridley Scott Favourite book: “War in Peace”, by Nuno Rogeiro Hobby: sport – soccer

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