The government has launched a comprehensive ‘Strategy for our Veterans’ that outlines a new holistic vision and set of principles to support those who served in the Forces and their families once they have returned to Civvy Street.
The strategy identifies six areas where the government believe support is most needed over the next decade:
The new strategy considers the opportunities to provide support to veterans, and the barriers that stand in the way.
It also covers improved collaboration between organisations between interested organisations, better co-ordination of services and better data on the veteran community.
To achieve the last point, a new question is being considered for inclusion in the 2021 Census in England and Wales, and in Scotland, that will allow ex-Service personnel to declare their time in the Forces, which will give the government and other authorities a better understanding of where veterans live and work, so that support can be better targeted.
Alongside the strategy, the government has published a consultation paper that seeks views on how best to support and deliver the needs of the ex-Service community.
The strategy informs how the strategy could be implemented across the UK, except for devolved matters in Scotland and Wales – the respective governments will engage separately on issues such as housing and healthcare.
Input to the consultation paper is invited from everyone who has a stake in veterans’ issues – the views of charities, employers, academics, local authorities, service providers and the veterans community itself will help shape the plans for future public services to help support the ex-Service community.
One part of the new package will see the Veterans’ Gateway’s 24/7 hotline trial a new outreach service under which it will call those who have served to check on their wellbeing and signpost any support services they may need – an initiative that treads a similar path to the RNA’s well-established and popular Shipmates and Oppos scheme.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “While the vast majority of veterans thrive in civilian life, we have a responsibility to ensure that any who do struggle as a result of their service – whether finding a job, getting on the property ladder or with mental health issues – get the support they need.
“The ‘Strategy for our Veterans’ is a crucial step in our cross-government efforts to support those who have protected us.”
Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell said: “At a time of year when people of the UK have united to commemorate the end of World War 1 it is fitting that all four nations are working together to ensure our military veterans – many of who are from Scotland - are properly looked after.
“This strategy is an important step towards making sure that the men and women who’ve selflessly served the UK and put their lives on the line for us have the best possible quality of life for them and their families.”
Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns said: “The outpouring of gratitude that we saw right across Wales on Remembrance Sunday underlines just how proud Welsh people are of our Forces and the sacrifices they and their families make to keep Britain safe.
“It is a community that deserves our steadfast support – particularly when the time comes to leave the military and to start afresh in civilian life.”
Karen Bradley, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said: “Our country owes a massive debt of gratitude to the brave men and women of the Armed Forces who put their lives on the line every single day to defend our way of life.
“We will always salute their bravery, professionalism and, of course, sacrifice. Nowhere has this been more evident in recent decades than in Northern Ireland where, without the contribution of the Armed Forces and the police, there would have been no peace process.
“It is largely through their efforts that the future of Northern Ireland will only ever be decided by democracy and consent and we must never forget that.
“I am particularly pleased, therefore, that this Government has put in place a strategy to ensure that our brave veterans are not left behind and that everybody who served their country gets the support they need when they leave the Armed Forces.”