More support is needed for military veterans in Northern Ireland, according to ongoing research into their health and wellbeing.
The report, carried out by Ulster University, is looking into areas such as transition from military to civilian life, housing and mental health.
'Supporting and Serving Military Veterans in Northern Ireland' calls for a formally recognised body to oversee support for veterans, as the principal investigator Cherie Armour explains:
Veterans are promised fair treatment by Britain’s Armed Forces Covenant, but there are problems implementing it in Northern Ireland, because political parties disagree over the way it is worded.
The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is calling for it to be reviewed and updated so it can be fully implemented across Northern Ireland.
However, other parties, such as Sinn Fein, oppose it being implemented, because of this Covenant pledge:
"Special consideration is appropriate in some cases, especially for those who have given most such as the injured and the bereaved."
They feel this would be in violation of existing equality legislation, and want the words amended or scrapped:
The report is the first of several, which received £750,000 funding from the veterans’ charity, the Forces in Mind Trust.
Its Chief Executive, Ray Lock CBE, said about the report: "It identifies, for the first time, the full scale and breadth of support and services available to the veteran population living in Northern Ireland and builds a detailed picture of how provision and legislation can be improved to better serve the community.”