The first ever UK-wide strategy on the delivery of support for veterans has been published…

Produced jointly between the UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments, and including the Northern Ireland Office, the ‘Strategy for our Veterans’ outlines a new vision and principles to support those who served, as well as their families, in every aspect of their lives once they have hung up their uniform.

Having looked back 100 years to the Armistice, this vision and its supporting principles are intended to ensure current and future veterans, and their families, can look forward to the next 100 years confident in the nation’s support.

The strategy identifies six key areas where support is most needed over the next ten years: community and relationships, employment and skills, health and wellbeing, finance and debt, housing, and contact with the law. It assesses the barriers and opportunities in these areas to providing support to each veteran, including improved collaboration between organisations, better co-ordination of services and more robust data on the veteran community.

It will be published alongside a consultation paper that seeks views on how best to champion and deliver the needs of the ex-service community. This UK Government Consultation informs how the strategy could be implemented across the UK, except for devolved matters in Scotland and Wales.

Open to everyone, including charities, employers, academics, service providers, local authorities and the veteran community, the UK consultation will ultimately inform action planning by providers of public services to support the ex-service community. The Scottish and Welsh Governments will engage separately on devolved issues such as housing and healthcare.

As part of the package of support for veterans, the Veterans’ Gateway’s 24/7 helpline will trial a new outreach service where it will proactively call those who have served, to check in on their wellbeing and remind them of where support can be found.

As a first step in better understanding the profiles and needs of veterans, a new question is being considered for addition to the 2021 Census in England and Wales, and in Scotland, that will allow ex-service personnel to declare their service. The move will help authorities develop a better understanding of where veterans live and work so the right level of support can be provided.

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. By harnessing the combined reach of the UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments and co-ordinating services across charities, local authorities and businesses, we will ensure no-one is left behind.”

As part of the strategy, the UK Government has also committed to understanding and improving how veterans are viewed by society. New research by YouGov, commissioned by the MOD and the Forces in Mind Trust, shows that while the public believes those who have served embody many positive characteristics – such as loyalty and self-discipline – common misconceptions that military veterans are more likely to be institutionalised or suffer from mental health issues remain.

The strategy builds on the huge package of cross-government support already available to ex-service personnel to help them and their families transition to civilian life.

Read the full Ministry of Defence announcement here.