Court: Netherlands failed its veterans needing PTSD treatment after Lebanon

The Ministry of Defense failed its Lebanon in providing information about and offering treatment for post traumatic stress disorder, the Central Appeals Court ruled on Monday.

The ruling was made in a lawsuit brought by one of these veterans. The veteran in question was deployed to Lebanon to fight in the UNIFIL-batallion in 1980 and 1990. He suffered from PTSD upon his return. The court found that there was a "combination of lack of care before, during and especially after the deployment", according to the court statement.

According to the court, the soldier was not properly informed about possible psychological problems that may be caused by his deployment. The military leaders also did not refer the soldier to psychological aid or called in aid themselves when he started showing seriously concerning behavior. Finally the Minister of Defense also did not provide adequate care after the soldier's return. "The Central Appeals court concluded that the Minister breached her duty of care and is liable for the stated damage."

The court also referred to the 1987 Report After care ex-UNIFIL soldiers. The report shows that many of the soldiers deployed to Lebanon did not receive letters about care options and that many of them developed psychological problems. There is also no evidence that aftercare was offered after the report was published.

In 1998 the Defense minister acknowledged in a letter to the Tweede Kamer, lower house of parliament, that an active aftercare policy is vitally important. But even after that the Minister did not offer the soldier in this case any aftercare that can be shown. Only in 2007 were all Lebanon Veterans approached about the available aftercare.

The Central Court of Appeals is the highest court in the fields of social administrative law, civil law and parts of the pension law. In this case the court's verdict is the final verdict and no appeal is possible.

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