UK-Wide Veterans Support Strategy Launched

It aims to make sure people get the right help and advice when they leave the armed forces.

A new strategy to support armed forces veterans has been released across the UK for the first time.

'Strategy for our Veterans' will include considering adding a new question to the 2021 census to help understand the needs of veterans.

Ex-service personnel will be able to declare their military service under plans being proposed.

It is thought that information gathered may provide a better understanding of where veterans live and work so they can receive the right support.

The proposal is part of a package of measures being developed to support the veteran community.

Anonymous troops with Union Jack CREDIT MoD
The plans outline six areas where veterans support can be given (Picture: MOD).

The plan has been jointly produced by the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments.

It identifies six areas where support for veterans is most needed over the next decade: community and relationships, employment and skills, health and well-being, finance and debt, housing, and contact with the law.

The Veterans' Gateway, a consortium of organisations and armed forces charities, will trial a new outreach project through its 24/7 helpline service where veterans will be called to check on their well-being.

Newly-published research commissioned by the Ministry of Defence and the Forces in Mind Trust has revealed the public's perceptions of veterans in society.

The government said that while ex-service personnel were seen to embody "loyalty and self-discipline", common misconceptions placed them as "more likely to be institutionalised or suffer from mental health issues".

Veterans need to have 'three types of resilience'

A veterans ID card will also be introduced by the end of the year and Lieutenant General Richard Nugee, Chief of Defence People, said he hopes it will make life easier for veterans, charities and the NHS: 

“A veterans ID card, if they need to go to a charity, if they need support, is an automatic entrance.

"They don’t need to be checked out whether they are a veteran or not because they’ve got a veterans ID card.

"So it’s enormously helpful to the charitable sector.

“This is not a discount card, let’s be really clear," he added.

"This is not designed to be a discount card and this is not a discount card… What this is about is camaraderie and a feeling of belonging and an ID card that says that if you need help, you can say ‘I’m a veteran’ and people will believe you."

Veterans have a "rich scale" of skillsets that can be put back into society, says Tobias Ellwood

Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood told Forces News: "We owe a huge debt of gratitude to all our veterans.

"This is confirming the direction of travel, how we want to celebrate what they’ve done. And it builds on the fundamental building blocks that have been introduced: firstly, the Armed Forces Covenant… the obligation for us to look after our veterans.

“And the second part of that is the Veterans Board which makes sure it’s not just the MOD but all departments are recognising what role they can play in supporting veterans.

“And the third aspect is the Veterans’ Gateway: which is the single online portal, giving access to an amazing array of services through the charitable sector and elsewhere. But we need to know how this can all work together."

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."

He said the coordination of services across charities, local authorities and business would help ensure "no-one is left behind".

Anon troops
The Defence Secretary says there is a "responsibility" to ensure veterans get help if they need it (Picture: PA).

A consultation paper will be published alongside the new Veterans' Strategy, asking for views on how it should be implemented across the UK, except for devolved matters in Scotland and Wales.

Sir Andrew Gregory, CEO, SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, said: "The publication of the Veterans Strategy is a good start, not least as it highlights the need for a cross-government and multi-agency approach.

"What is now needed is the will and determination, at all levels, to achieve decisive action; that is ultimately what will make a positive, tangible difference."