FORMER Minister for Veteran Affairs, member for Calare Andrew Gee says he is still shocked and angered by the shadow the federal election threw over a bid to clear defence veterans compensation claims. Mr Gee was commenting on the the interim report from the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide which was released last week, describing it as a "watershed moment in the care and treatment of ADF personnel, veterans and families". "It has put in black and white what thousands of service men and women, veterans, and their families have been trying to tell us for so long," he said. "That once defence personnel hang up their uniform, another battle begins, for support from the society they put their hands up to protect." The Minister for Veterans Affairs from July 2021 until the election, Mr Gee backed the Commission's findings. "As of June 2022, more than 62,000 claims had yet to be processed," he said in a statement. "This backlog is unacceptable, and I stand by what I said in April, when I threatened to resign from cabinet. This is a national disgrace." Mr Gee threatened to resign as Minister in March this year, with a last-minute phone call to Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce securing almost $100m to clear the problem. "I found when trying to secure funding to fix the compensation claims backlog and other worthwhile initiatives, was that, given the looming election, they were only being looked at in terms of whether or not there was political advantage in them," he said in a statement. READ ALSO: Here kitty: Orange councillor David Mallard wants government's help to keep cats in their owner's homes "I'm still shocked and angered by this. "Politics should have absolutely nothing to do with it. Looking after veterans and their families should be at the heart of who we are as a nation. This Royal Commission is going a long way to ensuring that it is. The current government and all future ones are on notice that it needs to be." The 348-page report criticised the Morrison government, stating its failure to properly respond to a major Productivity Commission report from 2019 and simplify legislation relating to compensation claims amounted to a "dereliction of its duty to Australian veterans". Mr Gee gave evidence before the Royal Commission in June stating he had to cut $430 million from the Department of Veterans' Affairs to offset money allocated in the budget. In his evidence he said there was a clear link between the claims backlog and suicide rates within the defence community. "I hope all Australians now read the report and gain a greater understanding of how crucial it is for our country to resolve these issues. Some politicians already have this understanding but unfortunately not all pollies get it. Maybe more will now. "The Royal Commission has rightly made it crystal clear that it expects reform to be happening now and not delayed until the Commission has concluded. It's a message that needs to be heeded." Mr Gee said he had recently met with Veterans Affairs Minister Matt Keogh and wants him to succeed in clearing the claims backlog and addressing other issues raised by the Royal Commission. "He's got a difficult job and he has my support," Mr Gee said. "Our veterans put our country before themselves. It is time our country put our veterans first. If you or a someone you know is struggling, the following support is available: Open Arms - Veterans &amp; Families Counselling line is available to support members of the current and ex-service community and their families. Phone 1800 011 046 toll-free. Safe Zone Support is an anonymous counselling line that's available to support members of the current and ex-service community and their families. Phone 1800 142 072 toll-free. Defence Member and Family Helpline - 24/7 advice and assistance for ADF members and their families. Phone 1800 624 608 toll-free. Defence All-hours Support Line - a confidential telephone service for ADF members and their families, available 24/7. Phone 1800 628 036 toll-free. Lifeline is also available 24/7 on 13 11 14. To read more stories, download the Central Western Daily news app in the Apple Store or Google Play.