Speech by the President of the Republic Upon his Visit to the Association of the Disabled Servicemen
Lisbon, 24 February 2016

As President of the Republic and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces I wish to express my deepest respect and regard for the Association of Disabled Servicemen which I am once again very pleased to visit. This is a Home with which I am well acquainted and which I have endeavoured to support throughout the several public offices that I have fulfilled.

Throughout our History the capability for sacrifice, the altruism, the courage and the love for his Country of the Portuguese serviceman have long been recognized.

Within the scope of the celebrations of the National Day of Portugal, Camões and the Portuguese Communities I have always made a point of promoting due tribute to former combatants, those who fought for Portugal with total renunciation.

Recalling is very often paying a tribute, and our memory must perpetuate the gratitude to those who gave all they had when the Nation so required. Thence my commitment to return to this Home before ending my current mandate.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

War discloses the great volatility of relationships between societies and between peoples. Their consequences are extremely penalizing and very often permanent, involving all concerned, but very particularly those who fought them and their nearest.

Independently from the causes of the conflicts, our disabled serviceman, our veteran, our soldier is always deserving of a tribute of admiration, of affection and of gratitude.

The Country cannot ignore those who became impaired in the fulfilment of their duties in defence of their Country, those who were foiled of their legitimate prospects for the simple reason of once having fought for Portugal.

We all have a moral and material debt towards these men.

Honourable Guests,

I have accompanied the association of Disabled Servicemen and the issues with which it has contended throughout the years, its difficulties and the untiring will to overcome them.

The Association has been an aggregating element of disabled servicemen, not just through solidarity and the close support it renders its members in terms of rehabilitation and social integration, but also due to the bridges it has known how to erect to establish dialogue with political and military bodies and with Portuguese society.

We are indeed and rightly pleased with the just and merited distinction conferred by Parliament on the Association of Disabled Servicemen, when awarding it the “2015 Prize for Human Rights” due to its “notable 41 year role in the support of the former combatants of the colonial war”.

But we must also not ignore the increased difficulties that attain and upset our handicapped servicemen and their families, particularly when associated with the natural ageing process.

It is essential that all the bodies and organizations which have responsibilities in the rendering of support to the handicapped do not slacken their efforts and that their priorities are maintained.

In effect, in the latter years a set of measures have become operational, namely in the reform and the simplifying of procedures for the qualification of servicemen as disabled, in the support provided to the development of the Lisbon Prosthesis Centre and in the efficiency in the acquisition of this type of equipment, and yet still in the safeguard of the indemnity features of the pensions of the disabled servicemen..

It is however necessary to ensure the implementing of the Action Plan for the Support of Disabled Servicemen, a longstanding claim of ADFA, which has already been referred to today.

A Plan assumed by the Government, with a strategy of intervention that involves diverse bodies and partner organizations, the objective of which is the promotion of health and welfare, of autonomy and graceful ageing, thus consecrating the rights of disabled servicemen.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is commonly accepted that the path tread by the Association of Disabled Servicemen in latter years, has been closely associated to the determined and competent dedication with which the Chairman of its National Board, José Arruda, has fulfilled his duties.

It is thus entirely fair to recognize the actions which he daily promotes with the different departments of the State, civil bodies, general society and, very particularly, within the Association and with its members, aiming towards the dignifying and the rehabilitation of the disabled servicemen.

For this reason, I decided that in this my last visit to AFDA as President of the Republic, to award him the grade of Grand Officer of the Order of Prince Henry the Navigator.

My congratulations and my very best thanks.