Claims for certain submarine special operations

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Find out about entitlements under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA) for ADF veterans who served on submarine special operations between 1 January 1978 and 12 May 1997.

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Entitlements for veterans

Submarine special operations between 1 January 1978 and 12 May 1997 are considered 'operational and qualifying service' under the VEA. This means that eligible veterans can claim Disability Compensation Payment and healthcare services for their accepted disabilities. We determine Disability Compensation Payment claims using a more generous standard of proof.

If you have qualifying service, this means that you will get a Veteran Gold Card at age 70. You and your partner may also be eligible for a service pension or partner service pension. You must meet relevant income and assets tests for the service pension.

Veterans with service on submarine special operations can get treatment for certain medical conditions even if they are not related to service. This includes treatment for:

  • any mental health condition
  • malignant cancers or pulmonary tuberculosis.

Our pages on Fully funded mental health care for veterans and Fully funded treatment for cancer and tuberculosis provide more information.

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Operational and qualifying service

Not all service on a submarine is considered service on a submarine special operation.

If you have or are eligible for the Australian Service Medal (ASM) with Clasp ‘SPECIAL OPS’ for service on submarine special operations, it is seen as operational and qualifying service under the VEA. This applies to any submarine special operation between 1 January 1978 and 12 May 1997.

The entitlements you can get are the same, whether you served on one submarine special operation or on many.

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Compensation under the DRCA and VEA

Your entitlements continue if you already had a claim accepted before 1 July 2010 and you got compensation under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act 1988 (DRCA).

From 1978 to 1994

You cannot claim under the DRCA for submarine special operations between 1 January 1978 and 6 April 1994 unless you already had a claim accepted before 1 July 2010. This is because there is no dual entitlement under the DRCA for operational service during this period.

From 1994 to 1997

For claims between 7 April 1994 and 12 May 1997, submariners can have eligibility under both the VEA and the DRCA. However, if you claim for the same condition under both Acts, offsetting will apply. This means your compensation under one of the Acts will be reduced because you cannot get compensation twice for the same condition. For example, if you claim under the VEA for a condition which is already accepted under the DRCA, your VEA compensation for that condition will be reduced according to the amount you got under the DRCA.

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Proof of your service

You will need to provide evidence that you have been awarded the Australian Service Medal (ASM) with Clasp ‘SPECIAL OPS’, or that you are entitled to it. There is other service that makes you eligible for this medal, so you must have become eligible for submarine special operations from 1978 to 1997.

We will check your eligibility with the Department of Defence.

You do not need to actually have the medal. You just need to be eligible for it. But if you would like to apply for your medal, please contact Defence Honours and Awards on their Medals Inquiry Line 1800 Defence (1800 333 362).

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Service after 12 May 1997

Not all submarine service is classified as operational and qualifying service.

From 13 May 1997, all ADF service is classified either as warlike, non-warlike or peacetime. If a submariner served on an operation which had been declared as warlike or non-warlike, they may be eligible for a range of DVA entitlements.

From 13 May 1997, certain service on submarines has been classified as non-warlike or as peacetime service depending on the type of operation. This reflects the nature of service criteria for these types of service.

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