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    Posted: 27 Aug 2010 at 2:13pm
    18 July 2010 : The Tri Service Fiji Support Network is Up and Running

A Tri Service Fiji Support Network (FSN) has been launched. Its aim is to act as a conduit on policy, information delivery and dialogue between the MoD and Fijians serving in the UK Armed Forces.

Specifically the FSN would be the signpost for the Fijian community on policies, information and regulations that affect them as Foreign & Commonwealth (F&C) Servicemen. The organisation is also willingly ready to offer advice to existing welfare organisations such as the Families Federation, SSAFA, Community Support, Unit Welfare Offices and the Chain of Command with regards to any specific Fijian cultural and protocol issues.

It is a social network which can be used effectively by Fijian Servicemen and their families in exchanging best practice and allowing the community to be particularly expressive, taking away any ambiguity about welfare issues that directly affect them in order to seek advice on the appropriate way forward. In essence the FSN will be the sounding board for the Community and the Chain of Command. It will not replicate the functions of the existing Welfare Organisations but is there to assist wherever possible and seek to work hand in hand with any organisation in addressing Fijian issues.

The FSN is led by Maj Mike Nawaqaliva and representatives from the three Services who effectively make up the FSN Committee. Plans over the next few months include briefing the Fijian Service Communities in the UK and Germany and a setting up a website which will be the main medium of communication in spreading the word to the Fijian Community.

President of the FSN, Major Mike Nawaqaliva RLC said,

     "The launch was a historic event in the sense it formalised the dream that some of us have in ensuring that Fijian Servicemen and their families are fully aware of what is made available to them and what is currently being planned for the future.

      "We are at an era where some of our children are following our footsteps into the Armed Forces or going on for higher education at University level and beyond. We have come to a gap where the older generation need to build bridges for those that will follow us."


The points of contact are:

Major Maikali (Mike) Nawaqaliva RLC

Tel: 94873 2773 (Mil) +49 (0) 5241 732773 (Civ),

Email: 24RLC-98-OC@mod.uk


Flight Lieutenant Toga Loco RAF

Tel: 95561 4636 (Mil) 01902 704636 (Civ)

Email: 30008287@cosford.raf.mod.uk


    
    

Edited by Elaine - 02 Dec 2012 at 11:20am
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Below is a link to edition 5 of the British Army Chain of Command Guide supporting Foreign and Commonwealth Citizens and their Families.

http://www.army.mod.uk/documents/general/20080331-FC_Guide_Edn_5-DPS%28A%29-U.pdf
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To Helmand and back
Dan McDougall - The Observer, Sunday 26 April 2009

More than 2,000 Fijians are currently serving in the British forces, trading their palm-fringed Pacific islands for the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq. Why do they do it? For a passport out of poverty and to fight for the nation that once ruled them. Dan McDougall reports

The risen Christ died for our sins! We deserve our punishment here on this earth..." The preacher bangs on the pulpit and waves his fist at the congregation of God-fearing middle-aged women crouched and penitent on the long palm mat before him. "We deserve to feel pain and sadness." As the hoarse rhetoric soars, a sudden cloudburst takes everyone by surprise, enveloping the lush greenery of the church garden in a celestial-looking mist.

Behind the altar, heavy flumes of rainwater pour directly into a plug socket which cracks and fizzles. As if electrified by the static in the air an elderly woman lunges forward in her fervour, speaking in tongues. Fainting in the humidity of dusk she is helped to her feet by applause and tears, warmly congratulated by all.

The drama over for the evening, Sera Vakabua clutches her Bible and walks out into the rain. Bookmarking psalm 27:1-3 is a faded photograph of her youngest son, Edward, in his British army uniform. He is standing in front of a makeshift signpost in English and Arabic, saying "Mortar Platoon". His 4th Battalion The Rifles fatigues are stained with sweat, but he is smiling in front of one of Saddam Hussein's palaces. She reads the words to me from memory as we walk to her home: "When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies attack me they will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege against me my heart will not fear."

Sera says "this was my son's Bible", and hands it to me for inspection. "It was at his bedside when he died. He had highlighted psalm 27 with a pen. I know he read it every night. Like the others, my son was terrified. He feared the terrorists more than he feared God himself."

On 6 July 2007, at the age of 23, Edward Vakabua became Fiji's eighth victim of the western wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, an environment as far removed from his tropical island home as is imaginable. Since then, five more Fijians have fallen in the dirt of the desert, parched and distant from the turquoise atolls that shaped their youth. Each day, on the frontlines of Helmand and Baghdad, a league of nations fights tooth and nail for Britain, representing the broad church of the Commonwealth. Nepali Gurkhas, South African logistics specialists, Australian Special Services and, above all others, Fijian infantrymen patrol the streets of a foreign land for a foreign master. Today more than 2,000 Fijian nationals serve in the MoD but, as the Observer Magazine has discovered in the past few weeks, the legacy of war has left Fiji's army families torn apart by grief and suffering.

The thatched poolside bar at the Suva Holiday Inn is bustling with layover tourists and local municipal officer workers as a waiter comes out and lights a long row of kerosene torches. Crouching on the sea wall at the back of the complex, Derek Derenalagi removes two cylindrical black stumps, about two-feet long, from his legs and expertly attaches his American-engineered titanium prosthetics.

He has insisted we photograph him in his new legs. With some pride the 32-year-old starts to run across the grass, but his bulk sinks the thin metal into the mud. Unbowed, he leans on his wife for support and continues. "These legs have changed my life," says Derek, who, like most Fijian soldiers in the British army, is a devout Christian, and sees his recovery and indeed survival at the hands of a Taliban anti-tank mine as a miracle.

It was 6am on 19 July 2007, the dawn of another day in Afghanistan's Helmand province, when the Land Rover Private Derek Derenalagi was travelling in came into a flat, open plain just as the sun was nudging over the horizon. His mission, with three other soldiers from 2 Mercian Regiment, was to clear a remote site where a Chinook helicopter was about to land to pick up his commanding officer. The Fijian was at the back of the first vehicle, manning the machine gun, watching out for any sign of a Taliban ambush. But the driver wanted to give the gunner a good view over the mountainous terrain, so he reversed into what seemed to be the best spot. Suddenly, Derenalagi was sent hurtling through the air. Beneath the back wheel of the vehicle a 44-gallon oil drum cut in half and filled with nails, scrap metal and two anti-tank mines had exploded, flipping the vehicle like a toy car.

"It's the noise I remember most: the air being sucked out of the area like a screeching, the worst noise imaginable - like the gates of hell had been opened," Derenalagi tells me.

"I was thrown 30 yards from the Land Rover. I landed on some rocks. The pain was indescribable. I managed to lift my head a bit and I saw I was lying in a pool of blood. My body armour, my helmet and webbing had all been blown off. Then I saw my right leg wasn't there, and my left leg was badly burned and hanging on by just a few bloody strands. I was conscious enough to see my left boot was facing the wrong way. That made me pass out, I think.

"I came to and could feel the warmth of the sun on my face and I said a prayer. I was ready to go. I said, Lord, if you have a role for me in the future, to be an inspiration for others, then you will let me live. But whatever happens, I thank you for my life."

After half an hour, as blood seeped into the cracked desert earth, Derenalagi heard people shouting his name. "The soldiers in the vehicle behind dragged me to safety," he says. "But they didn't realise that I had broken my collarbone and my spine. I was in agony." After 20 minutes a helicopter took him to a field hospital where doctors amputated what was left of his legs. "I could hear the nurse's voice. Like a voice in a tunnel, echoing," he says. "She was saying: 'Be strong, Derek. You will be OK.' But I passed out when they amputated the second leg and they told the regiment that I had died." In fact, Derek had fallen into a coma. He was flown to the UK and, nine days later, woke up in Selly Oak Hospital, Birmingham, where many of Britain's war wounded are treated. His wife Anna was at his bedside.

"When I woke up I was confused because I thought I was still in Afghanistan," he says. "Anna was crying. I said I was hot and wanted to take my boots off. Then I said I wanted to go to the lavatory. 'You can't go to the lavatory,' she said. 'Why not?' I asked. She couldn't answer. Instead she took out her phone and took a photograph and showed it to me. I saw that I had no legs. 'This is how you are now,' she said.

"That was the lowest point of my life. Anna was in a terrible state. We knew our lives would never be the same again and we didn't know if we would be able to cope. All our plans, all our dreams were in ruins."

Derenalagi, who was born in Fiji and joined the British army in 2000, admits that he and his wife had to do "a lot of soul-searching" to come to terms with his disability. "Suddenly she thought her only future was as a full-time carer," he says. The couple's daughter Anna simply couldn't deal with it and returned to Fiji to stay with relatives.

"She used to come and watch me play rugby and seeing me with no legs was too much for her," he says. "I was in tears when I first came back from hospital and had to bum-shuffle around the house. I used to play rugby for Staines and for my regiment, and I couldn't do even simple things any more. But as I started my rehabilitation I was standing within weeks and I realised I was still breathing. We have to forget what happened and forgive those who did it. I was injured doing something I loved. We lost nine of our men on our tour in Helmand. At least I'm alive. We should be grateful for that."

Derenalagi claims his resolve to stay in the British army has been strengthened by his experience. "The MoD has been good to me. We have been given a five-bedroom house in Watford, and compensation. I can take an office job for life if I want one. They have done everything for me and I want to pay them back. It's not the other way around." Derek's ambition is now to represent Britain at the 2012 Paralympics in London. "I am a Fijian but I am also British. I joined the army because I wanted to fight for Britain, that's where my loyalties lie and my children will grow up British. Most Fijians love Britain and would love to live there if they had a chance, so I am lucky in a way."

Made up of more than 300 Pacific islands, Fiji was first visited by a European, the Dutch navigator Abel Tasman, in 1643. The islands remained a disparate group of feuding cannibal fiefdoms until they surrendered joint authority to Queen Victoria as late as 1874, pledging loyalty to her. Today, most Fiji islanders are fervently anglophile. Most municipal workers have resolutely refused to remove royal photos from offices, police stations and government buildings, even during the 2006 military coup and the three years of turmoil that ensued. The pale-blue Fiji flag has a union jack as a canton in the upper hoist; the Queen's birthday is observed as a public holiday; a youthful version of her profile is depicted on the currency notes and coins and a full-size portrait looks down on visitors to the former governor general's residence.

Britain might have been a strict colonial power, but to Fijians it put in place the pillars of society, introducing democratic government (ironically now deposed), robust legal and educational systems, plus a love of rugby and English literature. The white-uniformed Fiji police band even specialises in Beatles classics.

For the British Ministry of Defence, the Fijians, strong of heart and body, robust and compliant, are the perfect soldiers. Unlike most indigenous recruits they also intend to serve for 22 years, the maximum period, to gain the biggest possible pension. And they bring other benefits, too: the British Army rugby team has many Fijian players, and is much better for it. In Fiji, becoming a British army soldier is the equivalent of being a professional footballer for young British males.

But huge uncertainty surrounds the fate of the existing Fijians within the British army - 2,000 soldiers who provide for often desperately poor relatives. But as a result of the recent troubles, Fiji is suspended from the Commonwealth and no more young Fijians can be taken into the British Army.

According to local church elder Tevita Tuinalee, who runs a volunteer support group for the families of serving British soldiers, poverty is the defining reason for young Fijian men joining the British army, and with the highest male unemployment rates in the Pacific, the next generation may have nowhere to go and nothing to aspire to. "I have two boys serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and, like many Fijian parents with boys out there, we fast for them, we pray for them and we do everything we can to support them. Without the aspiration to join the British army, where do these young men go? The army is the making of them and we love England and we are proud that our boys fight for Britain. The Fijian boys are strong fighters and natural soldiers, that's why they are revered, and for that to stop will leave a massive hole in our society. There have been casualties, and that is a tragedy - but most of the families of the dead we have spoken to at church were immensely proud of their sons. The loss is hard to swallow but their children have died proud young men serving a righteous cause against evil, because as Christians that's how we see it."

A threadbare map of the Commonwealth hangs above the television on the wall of Bainimara Lagimiri's home, its corners limp and watermarked by decades of tropical humidity. At my feet Bainimara kneels on the palm-matted floor and mournfully places the back of her hand on the St Andrews flag as she smooths out a crease - another coffin standard. Her heavy face is a crumpled mass of grief and frustration.

Like most Fijian conscripts, Private Pita Tukutukuwaqa had answered a call for new recruits in the Fiji Times - the equivalent of X Factor auditions, one local British mandarin told me sarcastically over drinks in Suva. Three years after joining the 1st Battalion The Black Watch he died on 8 November 2004 when his Warrior armoured vehicle hit a roadside improvised explosive device - the attack, which happened near Camp Dogwood, 20 miles south of Baghdad, later prompted Tony Blair to defend patrolling tactics deployed from the base.

"My son joined the Black Watch in March 2001 and had served with the battalion in Kosovo before going to Iraq. His last days in Baghdad were terrifying for him. He sent me a letter saying suicide bombers were everywhere, that he didn't want to die. He was so young." As she speaks, Bainimara breaks down in tears and, hands shaking, passes me the letter sent to her by Lieutenant Colonel James Cowan, then the commanding officer of the 1st Battalion. In clipped tones it reads: "Pita was a trained sniper and an outstanding sportsman. He will be dearly missed by the regiment."

Like many of the mothers, brothers, sisters and wives interviewed by the Observer in Fiji, Bainimara says she was not offered counselling by the MoD. She said: "Nobody offered us psychological help to deal with the pain. I have spoken to many other mothers and it's the same. A flurry of activity and letters around the funeral, then we are left behind and forgotten. No explanation for why our sons died, for what point." As we speak, Bainimara opens up her son's condolence book. Inside are the scrawled messages of his fellow squaddies. The messages are, typically of soldiers, restrained. "Good lad" and, more than half a dozen times, "sorely missed", then "gentle giant", "kind heart", "fine rifleman", "made me laugh".

"The autopsy was difficult, I was told," Bainimara tells me as we leave. "There was massive blast and terrible burn trauma to his legs, and he was missing most of his right hand. His torso was intact but his head was very badly damaged. The mortician built a right hand out of gauze and cotton and similarly stuffed the legs of his trousers. He washed and shaved my son and put on makeup. I think he must have also washed my son's hair, rinsing it with shampoo, holding his limp head in his hands. I think about that a great deal, the water running through it and his fingers and into the sink, along with the blood."

The narrow track to Sera Vakabua's suburb is bone-jarring. In the mountains above Suva, logging has denuded the once heavily forested hills to reveal a patchwork of pine plantations, palm trees, cane-stands, scrub and black volcanic rock. Inside the bungalow, painted blues and turquoises of the room evoke the colour of the distant lagoon. Sera's six-year-old grandson is clutching his uncle's medals. He reads the silver monogrammed lettering. B-E-L-F-A-S-T. The other is a sand-coloured ribbon with the black, white and red of the Iraqi flag - the medal for British soldiers who have served in Iraq. The boy proudly feels the weight of the medal as he asks his gran to pin it to his chest. His grandmother refuses.

"People tell me my son is a great hero. They tell me that often," says Sera, as she patiently hands me her son's "belongings". In her front room, as with all the Fijian families of the fallen, she has erected a shrine to her child. In her shaking hands is the union flag that was draped over his coffin as he was flown back to Brize Norton with full military honours.

But Rifleman Edward Vakabua was killed not by a roadside bomb, the main slayer of island soldiers, but by one of his own colleagues, Rifleman Aaron Kendrick, 20, who shot him in the head with a sniper rifle while messing around in a bunk room at Basra Palace. Kendrick, of 4th Battalion The Rifles, who was not trained to use the weapon, had cocked it as a joke, aimed it at Vakabua and pulled the trigger. The bullet struck the soldier in the skull as he lay on his bed. Colleagues tried to save him but he died minutes later. Kendrick, based at Warminster in Wiltshire, admitted negligently discharging an L96 sniper rifle but denied manslaughter.

A board of five army officers found him guilty following a court martial at Bulford, Wiltshire. Sentencing him, Judge Advocate Jack Bayliss said he would serve 16 months of the sentence at the military detention centre at Colchester. But Kendrick has not been dismissed from the army and it is up to his commanding officer whether his services are retained when his sentence is completed. His likely return to service is impossible for Vakabua's mother to accept.

"As a Christian, it is in my heart to forgive," Sera tells me. "I went to the tribunal in England and I listened to the case. I listened to the commanding officer's testimony of Kendrick as an upstanding young man. I listened to his mother and I told her I had forgiven her son and then I listened as the jury gave him a few months in prison and said he could continue as a soldier. I know in my heart if my son had killed Kendrick, if a Fijian had killed a British soldier, the outcome would've been different. My son would have been sent to prison for a decade and thrown out of the army. The British army let me down. People say Edward is a hero but to me he is a victim of the world, a world far removed from island life, a victim of politicians and people who were cleverer than him. People who used him. I tell my children that my grandsons will never join any army. They will live in peace and grow old to see their own children live."

Saturday night television blares in the background as a crescendo of tinny gameshow applause drowns out Camari Babakobau's faint voice. In mid-sentence she seems to give up and suddenly breaks down in tears and walks, head bowed, towards the narrow front windows of her cramped red-bricked army barracks home in Windsor, on the outskirts of London. At her feet her two young sons bicker over the remote control, increasing the volume further as they clamber for their mother's attention. Their dinners, still warm and untouched on the plates, sit on the kitchen table.

Outside the rain is pounding the glass. In the wind the streetlights flicker, adding to the gloom. "It gets dark so quickly here," says Camari, sadly. "The weather is the hardest thing about living in England. It's what I miss most about Fiji. It adds to my anxiety and depression, but I must stay here for my children, for their education. He brought us here from the islands, my man, to give us a future - and now he has left us, we are alone. This is an army house. We will lose it in two years and have to go elsewhere."

On the chipboard partition wall of her front lounge is an oversized portrait of her dead husband, Trooper Ratu Sakeasi Babakobau, handsome but somehow ill at ease in his Household Cavalry uniform. In the hallway, next to a postcard calendar of the Pacific islands, is another photograph of the guardsman in desert fatigues. Behind him is the beige scrubland of the Shomali plain, about 20 miles north of Kabul. The last picture of him before he died.

Babakobau was killed on 2 May 2008. The 29-year-old former fisherman died in the landlocked Nowzad area of Helmand, the victim of a crude Taliban landmine, as he provided protection for a routine patrol.

Within a month of arriving in Afghanistan the Fijian was dead. Less than four hours later, officers and a Household Cavalry chaplain were dispatched to Windsor to break the news to his widow. "I have spoken to other wives and mothers and they tell me they knew when the doorbell rang, when they opened the door and saw the uniformed officers standing on the doorstep. In an instant they knew what was coming," says Camari. "I didn't know. I didn't expect it because I probably didn't understand how dangerous by husband's job was. I thought they had come to see me about my son's British citizenship. I just remember crying. I couldn't stop crying, my sons wouldn't give me a minute's peace."

Like many of the relatives of Iraq and Afghanistan's fallen soldiers, Camari says the haunting final approach of the Hercules that brought her husband back to her, above all, remains imprinted on her mind. In her dreams she sees the plane eerily banking and coming in to land, everything in terrible slow motion.

"The band played at Brize Norton and I stood there just weeping and clutching my children's hands. The aircraft was grey, huge; it looked terrifying in the air, moving slowly as it came in to land. I kept thinking why is he in there, not breathing, his useless body coming back to me, for what? He was such a big man, a proud and strong man, and he had been reduced to this. Can you tell me why this happened? Can you tell my children when I put them to sleep at night and tell them their dad is never coming back."
Letters from the frontline

Rifleman Edward Vakabua, 4th Battalion The Rifles
Died: Basra, Iraq

"It gets harder and harder each day. We need to keep our eyes open, the CO says. But we don't know what the enemy looks like. The patrols are terrifying. It's worse early morning and late at night when an attack could come from anywhere at any time. Everyone wants to kill us and even during the day we are a sitting target. Most people sleep in the day. What can you do against someone who blows themselves up in front of you? I read the Bible and say my prayers but the other soldiers make me laugh. I don't want another tour if it's like this."

Private Pita Tukutukuwaqa, 1st Battalion The Black Watch
Died: Camp Dogwood, Iraq

"We saw some coffins at the airport the other day, young men. I was told one of them was 19 and from Fiji but I never found out if he was. I remember everybody looked away. I think of Fiji a lot and miss you, Mum. It's hard to say when I can come back but we will have a big party at the house. The food here is really bad, not enough fish, I want some kokoda [raw, marinated fish]. The soldiers here throw spice on their food but it still tastes bland. Afghanistan is supposed to be worse than here so maybe I am lucky to be based in Baghdad. At least we can get burgers sometimes."

Trooper Ratu Sakeasi Babakobau, Household Cavalry
Died: Helmand, Afghanistan

"The desert is cold at night, colder than Britain in the winter. There are other soldiers here, local Afghans helping us and they sit out in the cold, smoking cigarettes. They don't seem to notice, they never seem to eat or rest. There are no women anywhere. They hide behind closed doors and windows. I carry my Bible in my pack but the people here seem godless. We have a pastor who takes Sunday prayers but only a few of us sit in. There are other Fijians serving in Helmand province but I haven't met them."

    
    

Edited by Elaine - 26 Jan 2011 at 4:40pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Elaine Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Jan 2011 at 4:58pm
TEARS FLOW FOR FIJIAN SOLDIER KILLED IN AFGHANISTAN
Private Joseva Saqanagonedau Vatubua mourned at service

By Samisoni Nabilivalu
SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Jan. 26, 2011) - Relatives and friends converged at the Commonwealth War Cemetery yesterday to pay their last respects to Private Joseva Saqanagonedau Vatubua.

Also present at the burial were representatives from the British Army and the British High Commission in Fiji.

[PIR editor’s note: Private Joseva Saqanagonedau Vatubua of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders 5th Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland attached to the 2nd Battalion the Parachute Regiment was killed in Afghanistan on 1 January 2011. ]

After a short service at the Vatuwaqa Methodist Church, the funeral procession made its way to the Commonwealth War Cemetery where Pte Vatubua was laid to rest.

A bearer party from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, or Five Scots as they are commonly known, was present to accord Pte Vatubua a full military burial with honors.

His Company Sergeant Major (CSM) Scott Clark and other members of the party, who were there as representatives of their regiment, presented Mrs. Vatubua with the Battalion's Wreath, Pte Vatubua's medals, his head-dress, and white belt to the mournful sound of bagpipes.

Pte Vatubua's wife Claudette Vatubua and his nephew Ross Qiokata lingered at the side of his grave long after others had left and could not hold back their tears as they bid a final farewell to "Jo" as he was known to family members.

[PIR editor’s note: It has been reported that more than 2,000 Fijians serve in the British Forces.]

CSM Clark said Pte Vatubua was a respected soldier who was known as a dedicated worker and a humble man and was admired for his commitment to his duty and added he had left behind a vacuum in his company that would be hard to replace.

"It is a sad loss to the army and also to the family and we share our sympathy with his wife, Claudette, and to Jo's loved ones. We will miss him," said CSM Clark.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Elaine Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Jan 2011 at 12:28am
Iraq War hero told to find £1300 for passport or be deported

Mar 28 2010 Exclusive by Derek Alexander, Sunday Mail

A WAR hero has been told he will be kicked out of the country unless he stumps up £1300 to get his visa renewed.

Former Royal Scots private Fereti 'Freddie' Bureqele, 28, will have to find the cash if he wants to stay in Scotland with his wife Nicola, 30, and children Ryan, nine, Junior, four, and Oni, three.

Freddie served with distinction in Bosnia and Iraq during six years in the Army and is now with the Territorials.

He is due to leave for a tour of duty in Afghanistan in October, where he will be based for five months.

But he has been told he will have to fork out cash to the UK Border Agency for an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) visa on his passport - or be deported back to Fiji.

He is being forced to pay £1000 to fly to the South Pacific island to get a new passport, as his current document is running out, then pay another £300 to get a new UK Border Agency stamp.

Gutted Freddie already paid £750 to get the stamp when he left the Army in 2008.

Under strict immigration laws, Freddie must always have an up-to-date passport or he will be booted out of the UK.

If he wants British citizenship, he will have to pay another £800 and sit the Life In The UK test - a Government exam immigrants must pass before being granted a UK passport.

Freddie, of West Linton in the Borders, said: "It's as if the Government don't want me to remain in the United Kingdom despite my years of service.

"When I tell people about my situation, they think I must be joking.

"It's a real worry for me and my family but we have to find the money somehow or I'll be deported back to Fiji.

"I was proud to serve this country with the Royal Scots and I'm still proud to do my bit with the Territorial Army.

"But the whole problem with my visa has left a bitter taste in my mouth.

"If I don't get it resolved by October, I'll be sent back to Fiji and I can forget about staying here and going to serve in Afghanistan.

"I'm allowed to apply for UK citizenship now but I must have a valid Fijian passport first.

"Then I'll have to sit a 'right to stay in the UK 'exam - which feels l ike another slap in the face consider ing my service in the military."

His wife Nicola said: "The way my husband is being treated is an absolute disgrace.

"The Government were happy for him to join the Army and send him to Iraq to fight, yet they make it so difficult for him to stay in Scotland.

"Unless we can find the cash to fly Freddie to Fiji and pay to have the visa renewed, the future is very uncertain.

"Men like Freddie have put their lives on the line for this country and this is how they are repaid for their service."

Freddie's former sergeant major in the Royal Scots, George Gaff, said: "Freddie was a brilliant soldier and I'm furious that the Government are treating him like this.

"It makes me so angry that a fine man like Freddie who served this country proudly is now facing a fight to remain in the UK with his family."

Freddie joined the Army in 2002 and served in Basra during the Iraq conflict.

Figures released four years ago revealed that Fiji was the top Commonwealth country for new recruits.

More than 2000 Fijians serve in the British forces.

Freddie knew tragic Fijian rifleman Aminiasi 'Togey' Toge, from the 2nd Battalion The Rifles, who was killed in an explosion while on foot patrol in Helmand Province in Afghanistan in July last year.

Freddie was also friends with Fijian fusilier Petero 'Pat' Suesue, of the 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, who was killed in Afghanistan last May.

He said: "Fiji is a small island and when a Fijian soldier is killed the loss is felt by everyone.

"Pat and I joined the Army around the same time and I was so sad when he was killed. I'm proud to have known him and Togey."

The UK Border Agency said: "The cost to apply for settlement within the UK and from abroad is the same for everyone, including soldiers and individuals.

"The requirement to pay the fee is set out in law and we have no provisions to waive it."
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Elaine Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jan 2011 at 9:16pm
www.vitiuktubutubu.org

British Servicemen & Women Family Association of Fiji
THE BRITISH SERVICEMEN FAMILY ASSOCIATION OF FIJI CONSTITUTION
1. Name
The name of the 'Association' shall be The British Servicemen Family Association Of Fiji. Hereafter called the 'Association'



2. Aims And Objectives
The aims and objectives of the 'Association' shall be:

(2.1.) Maintain, foster and develop friendship among the family members & parents in Fiji and UK.

(2.2.) Develop and maintain regular contacts with our sons, daughters, spouses and relatives in various British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force bases in United Kingdom and other parts of the worls with a view to exchanging information, material etc of mutual family interest.

(2.3.) Contribute to the strengthening and development of friendly family ties and regular communication with as many areas as possible between Fiji, United Kingdom, Europe and other parts of the world.

(2.4.) Maintain, foster and develop consistent contacts with other UK military establishments worldwide.

(2.5.) Pursue and resolve urgent matters related to our sons, daughters, spouses and relatives and friends' British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force careers. Example sponsor, counseling, welfare, casualties, etc.



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Elaine Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Feb 2011 at 10:13am
9 February 2011 Last updated at 01:58 Share this pageFacebookTwitter ShareEmail Print
Legion: MoD needs to 'help us help' veterans at risk

Retired Col Tim Collins has called on councils and government to do more for veterans
Continue reading the main story

The British Legion has called on the MoD to hand over personal details of soldiers leaving the forces so that they can be helped into civilian life.

The director of welfare for the Royal British Legion said the Ministry of Defence was using the Data Protection Act as "an excuse" to not do more.

Sue Freeth said with the right details, they could prevent vulnerable former soldiers from falling into lives of crime, drug and alcohol abuse.

The MoD said it had to respect privacy.

Mrs Freeth said the MoD needed a policy shift to enable the legion to step in and help former soldiers without waiting for them to ask for assistance.

"I think if government were more willing to accept that then I think we could actually help them, be there and connect them to the right organisations more quickly as they leave, then they wouldn't fall through the gap. I think at times they use the Data Protection Act as an excuse."

'Great need'
In a statement, the MoD said it was willing to share data but "it must be in a way that complies with our legislative obligations on data protection".


"The danger is that the message will get through that there is no longer a need - there is need, there's great need”


Mrs Freeth made her comments to Panorama in a specially authored edition of BBC Panorama.

Col Collins' moving speech to his troops on the eve of the Iraq war in 2003 earned him national recognition.

He said the desire to help veterans was widespread and there were hundreds of charitable groups doing their best, but there were cracks showing.

Col Collins said: "There is no real co-ordination and there's considerable duplication. The danger is that the message will get through that there is no longer a need - there is need, there's great need."

In addition to the legion's concerns, Col Collins called upon local authorities to employ veterans' welfare officers to help those returning home to find housing, employment and medical treatment.

The charity Combat Stress said the rates of post-traumatic stress disorder among veterans who have seen active service were about 4% and the rate of alcohol problems is 13%.

Panorama: Forgotten Heroes, BBC One, Wednesday, 9 February at 2100GMT and then available on the BBC iPlayer
     
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Elaine Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Feb 2011 at 8:34am
Will the Government come to the defence of an Iraq war hero?
Fijian soldier Epeli Uluilakeba, wounded in the same blast that killed Pte Phillip Hewett, now faces deportation, says Christopher Booker

Fijian soldier Epeli Uluilakeba, front right, with his Snatch crew in Iraq in 2005. The photograph was taken by Pte Phillip Hewett
By Christopher Booker 7:00PM GMT 12 Feb 2011

If our Defence Secretary, Liam Fox, is as keen as he claims to be on rebuilding the “Military Covenant”, whereby the British people show proper care for all those members of the Armed Forces who are prepared to put their health and lives at risk on our behalf, he might begin by addressing himself to the plight of Epeli Uluilakeba, a 28-year-old Fijian, known to his friends and comrades as Pex.
Two years ago I wrote here, more than once, about Private Phillip Hewett, who died in Iraq in 2005 along with two other soldiers when the wholly inadequate Snatch Land Rover in which they were patrolling was blown up by an improvised explosive device (IED). His mother, Sue Smith, decided to sue the Ministry of Defence, to expose its negligence in sending soldiers out in these hopelessly unprotected vehicles. When she was denied legal help to do so, our readers contributed more than £7,000 to get her case under way (it is still continuing)
Along with Pte Hewett in that Land Rover was Pex, Pte Uluilakeba, who had been serving in the Army for just a year. Despite being seriously injured when the blast tore their vehicle apart, he sought to give first aid to one of his dying comrades, who lay beside the corpse of their patrol leader.
From this bloody chaos, Pex emerged with severe psychological trauma. But he was what his commanding officer described as “a dedicated, enthusiastic and very capable field soldier, whose team spirit and loyalty is first-class”. Within a year he was deemed fit to be sent back to Iraq, where he endured the terrifying siege of Basra Palace. When he returned once more to England he was diagnosed as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder – for which he received no treatment.
Still deeply disturbed by his experiences, he took to heavy drinking. In the small hours of one morning, when an over-zealous corporal was shouting to evacuate the barracks for a fire-drill, Pex drew a knife on him. For this, he was court martialled in 2009. After a short spell in Colchester prison, the Army discharged him as “no longer being of service”.

A devout Christian, Pex pulled himself together, became a teetotaller, and set about training to qualify as a plumber. But, being a Fijian citizen, he was not allowed to work, claim benefits or even sign on with a GP. (He still has to pull bits of shrapnel out of his own legs, because he has no doctor.)
Supported by members of the Fijian community, with whom he has been living, Pex last year applied for permission to remain permanently in Britain. Last month his application was refused by the UK Border Agency, on the grounds that he had been court martialled. He was told that if he did not leave the country by February 7 he would be deported.
Such is the bizarre state of our immigration laws that, thanks to European legislation, we cannot deport a citizen of an EU country, even a rapist or murderer. Meanwhile, judges prevent the deportation of a Pakistani who knocked down a 12-year-old girl and caused her to “die like a dog” as she was dragged along by his car. But a man who has sustained permanent injury in the field in the defence of Britain cannot be allowed to live in our country, although his only wish is to stay peaceably and to work for his living.
Fortunately, Pex has good friends, including Sue Smith and Elaine Laga, a widow who also lost a soldier son, in a Land Rover accident in Germany. She has paid £500 from her meagre savings to enable Pex to apply to the Home Office to re-examine his application to stay in Britain – which is why he is still here, despite the deportation deadline having passed.
As Mrs Smith says: “I cannot believe this country has allowed rapists, child molesters and terrorists to stay here, yet a man who is quite willing to give his life for Queen and country is being booted out.” Mrs Laga adds: “When you consider who we let into this country and provide for, it is a shame that we cannot look after a war veteran and a hero, a man who would be getting on with his life if allowed to.”
If Dr Fox really is commited to the “Military Covenant” that he wants us all to honour, he could prove it by ordering a review of the case of Pex, Mr Epeli Uluilakeba, as a top priority.
- Several contributors to the comments below have asked how they might contribute to a fighting fund for Pex. Cheques made out to Elaine Laga can be sent on via Christopher Booker (Pex), Sunday Telegraph, 111 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 0DT. This will ensure that the money reaches Pex, who is not allowed to open a UK bank account.     
     
    
    

Edited by Elaine - 13 Feb 2011 at 8:34am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Elaine Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Feb 2011 at 11:48am
http://www.pacifikana.com/

Pacifikana - the website for Fijians, serving or wishing to serve, in the British Armed Services and their families. Our aim is to help make your move from Fiji as smooth as possible and to inform you, as best we can, of the great (and not so great!) experiences you may encounter in the UK and Germany.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Elaine Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Mar 2011 at 10:24am
Recruitment crisis means one in 10 soldiers in Scots regiments are foreign-born
Mar 6 2011 Exclusive by Stephen Stewart, Sunday Mail
ARMY bosses have revealed that a shortage of homegrown recruits has led to a huge rise in foreign-born soldiers serving in Scots regiments.
A Sunday Mail investigation has revealed that record numbers of foreigners from countries around the world including Fiji, South Africa, New Zealand and Uganda have joined Scotland's frontline troops.
And one in 10 serving soldiers in Scots regiments was born abroad. The number of overseas troops in the Royal Regiment, the Scots Guards and tank unit the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards has rocketed by more than a third in just two years from 350 soldiers in 2009 to 470 this year.
Last night experts said problems recruiting and retaining soldiers from Scotland meant there was an increasing international feel to the Royal Regiment of Scotland.
Dr Alex Marshall, of the Scottish Centre for War Studies at Glasgow University, said: "The Army struggles to retain the required number of soldiers and recruits from overseas fill that gap as they often have a greater economic incentive to join up and remain in the forces.
"A lot of the soldiers are keen to embrace Scotland's proud military tradition and there are Commonwealth links with places such as Fiji and New Zealand.
"There are also issues of the fitness of recruits and retention of soldiers at a time when the tempo of operations is high. Some recruits from the west coast of Scotland may not meet the fitness criteria while many Fijian soldiers would pass with flying colours."
Army sources say historic Commonwealth links with the UK and the popularity of the Edinburgh Tattoo have triggered the rise in recruitment from Fiji and the Caribbean islands of St Vincent and St Lucia.
The most recent figures reveal that of the 4480 soldiers in Scottish units, more than 10 per cent are from outside the UK. The largest contingents are the Fijians, South Africans, St Vincentians and St Lucians
Other nationalities in the Scottish units include Irish, Indians, Malawians, Mauritians, Nepalese, Pakistanis, Zambians and Zimbabweans.
Former SAS officer Colonel Clive Fair weather, who rose from the rank of private to commanding officer of the King's Own Scottish Borderers, said: "The Fijians are physically very strong. They are first-class warriors, tough guys who just never stop.
"Often these guys have a choice which regiment they go into. Sometimes they follow their pals into units or occasionally they are deployed to units that are under strength.
"They are always proud of their Scottish connection and see the Scottish infantry units as the best in the world.
"The Army is under-strength now and has real issues with recruiting and retaining soldiers. There are more foreign soldiers simply because fewer Scots are joining up.
"These recruits are undoubtedly great soldiers with a lot to offer."
A senior Royal Regiment of Scotland source said: "They Fijians feel a real affinity with the Scots and are proud to be adopted Jocks."
SCOTLAND'S FOREIGN LEGION
2011 figures for Royal Regiment of Scotland, Scots Guards and Royal Scots Dragoon Guards.
Total number of soldiers 4480
Nationality
UK 4010
Fijian 250
South African 60
Saint Vincentian 30
Saint Lucian 30
Others (includes Indian, Irish, Jamaican, Kenyan, Malawian) 100
    
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Elaine Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 May 2011 at 6:20pm
http://www.army.mod.uk/welfare-support/family/6195.aspx

Link to information lists and documents for foreign and commonwealth citizens on Army website.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Elaine Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Aug 2011 at 10:50pm
The Army Families Federation have a vast amount of information on their site for Foreign and Commonwealth soldiers - here is the link to it:-

http://www.aff.org.uk/foreign_commonwealth/index.htm

Also featured in the Summer edition of their magazine is a section about the AFF reaching foreign & commonwealth soldiers - link below, featured on page 44.

http://content.yudu.com/Library/A1snuo/ArmyFamiliesJournalI/resources/index.htm?referrerUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.aff.org.uk%2Ffamilies_journal%2Findex.htm
    

Edited by Elaine - 01 Aug 2011 at 10:56pm
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