Worcester MP welcomes launch of first ever Government Veterans Strategy

Robin Walker, MP for Worcester, has hailed the launch today (27th April) of a ground-breaking new initiative commissioned by the Defence Secretary to provide joined-up support to military veterans.

A new cross-departmental Veterans Unit has been created to champion the changing needs of the ex-service community and ensure action is taken to meet these needs, with input from across Whitehall.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced his new initiatives during a meeting of the Ministerial Covenant and Veterans Board, which was established last year to get the whole of Government behind the Armed Forces Covenant.

The Defence Secretary has identified several key pinch-points that affect a small but significant number of veterans and asked the new team and Ministerial Board to prioritise these issues:

  • Debt – How we can best help veterans meet the financial demands of civilian life. This issue represents the highest percentage of calls to the Veterans Gateway.
  • Housing- How to offer the best advice for those leaving the Armed Forces. Whilst the Covenant already puts an obligation on local authorities to ensure they provide fair access to housing for veterans there are still a small number of individuals that require further support.
  • Social Isolation – Supporting community integration for those who feel a loss of camaraderie upon leaving the Armed Forces. Younger veterans can struggle with a disassociation from civilian life so the new strategy will focus on connecting with the Loneliness Strategy to help address this.
  • Mental and Physical Wellbeing – Ensuring this is maximised, especially for those with lasting physical or mental health issues as a result of their service.
  • Public Perception – Improving how veterans are viewed, perceptions are often inaccurate, outdated or clichéd and do not recognise that most veterans are proud members of our society with a huge amount to offer.

Having personally signed the Armed Forces Covenant on behalf of Worcestershire in 2012, Robin has repeatedly pressed for improved support for veterans and military families in Worcester. Shortly after being elected Worcester’s MP in 2011, as a member of the Welsh Affairs Select Committee Robin contributed to a report into co-ordination between departments and best practice in the delivery of veterans’ services.

Minister for Defence People and Veterans, Tobias Ellwood said:

“I am pleased to have seen real progress made since the last meeting of the Ministerial Board, including a significant cross-government effort to ensure our veterans are in no way disadvantaged by their previous career.”

“Recent initiatives, such as the troops to teachers bursary, the new veterans ID cards and the growing popularity of the Veterans Gateway are all making a practical difference and I look forward to seeing how this new strategy can help build on the Armed Forces Covenant to show that our commitment to our brave men and women lasts long after they have left service.”

Commenting on the announcement, Robin said:

“I’m delighted to see the launch of this new initiative which will help to give our veterans the support they deserve having given so much themselves in the service of their country. We all have a responsibility to protect those who have protected us, and by joining together services across government we will be able to provide the wraparound care and support required to tackle the challenges identified by the Defence Secretary.”

“I’ve met with local veterans’ groups in Worcester on a number of occasions and heard their concerns on various issues, including the struggles of many ex-service personnel with debt. This drove my previous campaign to launch a dedicated credit union for the Armed Forces, ensuring access to secure savings and affordable credit.”

“Charities such as SSAFA and the Royal British Legion do a fantastic job offering support to veterans and Armed Forces families, but it is right that government leads the way in co-ordinating the provision of essential services and I look forward to hearing more about how these cross-government initiatives can be implemented locally.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

For more information about Robin’s previous campaign with the APPG for Credit Unions, please see: http://www.walker4worcester.com/walker-hails-new-armed-forces-credit-union-and-marks-international-credit-union-day/

For information on the Ministry of Defence’s partnership work with military charities, see: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/defence-secretary-highlights-importance-of-partnering-with-charities-during-visit-to-military-recovery-centre

For information and support from SSAFA in Worcestershire, see: https://www.ssafa.org.uk/worcestershire

For information and support from Worcestershire Royal British Legion, see: http://counties.britishlegion.org.uk/counties/worcestershire

For help and support from Veterans UK, see: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/veterans-uk