Another prominent Hunter veterans affairs advocate has called for drop-in style face-to-face services to resume at Newcastle's Veterans Access Network office.
The federal government's Department of Veterans Affairs stopped drop-in face-to-face services at the city's office last March because of COVID-19.
Face-to-face services resumed in May - but by appointment only - requiring veterans to book online or to alternatively seek help through a national phone service.
Stephen Finney served in Vietnam and is the vice president of Newcastle and Hunter Region Vietnam Veterans as well as the secretary/treasurer of the Totally and Permanently Incapacitated Veterans Association of Australia.
Mr Finney said he had spoken with several veterans who were unable to get satisfactory assistance because they were not comfortable using the internet.
He said the national phone service was a sub-par alternative to drop-in face-to-face services because the person at the other end of the line would likely be different each time - and not a local.
"It's very, very difficult to get back to the same person [using the phone service] so a lot of the blokes get turned off trying to contact DVA - they go into the office to try to talk to somebody in there and the place is locked up," Mr Finney said.
"I've got an anxiety disorder. It's accepted as a disability from my service in Vietnam. Most blokes with PTSD are the same - they can't cope with a lot of stressful situations and not being able to sort out what they want sorted out, at the time they want to sort it out, is a big stress to them. It's not easy.
"You talk to Veterans Affairs and they're all about looking after the veterans but they make it difficult to contact them and they try to force everyone onto the internet, which is a cost-saving exercise the way we see it.
"Veterans Affairs in Newcastle was somewhere where you could walk in off the street, walk up to a counter and be served."
Veterans Affairs Minister Darren Chester said last week the changed service delivery was about protecting the health and safety of the veteran community.
"The Department of Veterans' Affairs has clients who are considered in the higher risk category for COVID-19 because of age or health status and from the outset of the pandemic we have put in place practical steps keep them safe by minimising any potential exposure," Mr Chester said.
"Nobody wants to see a situation where our aged or unwell members of the veteran community are waiting outside an office because the office has reached maximum occupancy - the simple act of making an appointment assists in mitigating this risk."
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