Support for veterans: strategy

 

The launch of the Veterans Strategy in November 2018 acknowledged the importance of supporting and empowering those who have served us in our Armed Forces. Veterans, young and old, offer a wealth of experience, skills and knowledge that are vital for civil society and it is important that the contribution of their families is recognised too.

By committing to this Strategy along with the other governments of the United Kingdom, the Scottish Government has pledged to achieve a shared Vision and Principles and the best possible outcomes for our veterans and their families in the future. Implementing the Strategy, however, will be tailored to the needs of our veterans population and the distinctive mechanisms for delivery in Scotland.

Taking forward our consultation in Scotland, we have been clear to emphasise the message that, first and foremost, veterans are assets to our society. And for the small proportion who find the transition to civilian life more of a challenge, we owe them all the support that we can to ensure that, regardless of their difficulties, they too are able to realise their potential and live full and successful lives after their military service.

We have focused on strengthening the excellent work being done every day by organisations across the public, private and charitable sectors to support and empower veterans. Our response to the Strategy builds on this work and recognises that the needs of our veterans are changing, both in terms of the reducing numbers and also with regard to the types of support that help them to integrate successfully into civilian society. Where veterans require help, their issues can be multiple and complex, emphasising the importance of effective collaboration and co-ordination by the many agencies that are available to support them.

Looking ahead, this document sets out how we intend to respond to these changes, across all of the services that impact on the lives of veterans and families of the Armed Forces community in Scotland.

 

Government fulfils promise to veterans with new railcard

Image of Veterans railcard

Military veterans to get cut-price train travel to help boost job prospects and bring them closer to family and friends.

  • new railcard, available from Armistice Day this year, will help boost veterans’ job prospects and strengthen family bonds through cheaper travel
  • over 830,000 eligible for a third off their fares, saving veterans and their families hundreds of pounds a year
  • discount forms part of government’s new veterans strategy to support former servicemen and women

Military veterans will get cut-price train travel to help boost job prospects and bring them closer to family and friends, with a new railcard on sale from Armistice Day, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced today (22 January 2020).

Available from Armistice Day this year, the railcard will extend discounted train travel to the more than 830,000 veterans not covered by existing discounts.

Joined by veterans at St Pancras railway station, the Transport Secretary and the Minister for the Cabinet Office underlined the government’s commitment to supporting former service personnel and recognised their service to the country.

Minister for Defence People and Veterans Johnny Mercer said:

“Discounted train travel is a fantastic way to recognise those who have served this country, and the speed at which plans have been worked up shows how seriously we are taking our commitments to make the UK the best country in the world to be a veteran.

“The railcard is only the start though, and I’m clear we need to do more to look after the people who so selflessly put their lives on the line to look after us.

“Now the action plan has been published, I look forward to continuing to drive forward this issue across government and the services we offer.

More information

From: Department for TransportCabinet OfficeMinistry of DefenceThe Rt Hon Oliver Dowden CBE MPJohnny Mercer MP, and The Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

 

Join the Legion Scotland team at Edinburgh Head Office

Legion Scotland are looking to appoint a new person to the Administration & Events Support role. This is ideally suited to a dynamic and enthusiastic individual who relishes a hands on role and working within a team environment.

 

Positive Futures: Getting Transition Right in Scotland

The ‘Positive Futures’ paper develops the thinking and takes account of ‘big picture’ developments since the 2015 ‘Transition in Scotland‘ report was prepared by my predecessor, Eric Fraser.  As well as economic and demographic change, and changes afoot in our Armed Forces, it takes account of the vision and 2028 outcomes set out in the first ever UK-wide, long-term Strategy for our Veterans and initial findings from the public consultation on the Strategy


You can view the Positive Futures paper here.


If you would like to print a copy of the paper, you can do so here.


This initial paper sets the scene for a series of short papers on different aspects of transition, which will contain specific recommendations for Government, the first of which, looking at employment, skills and learning is planned for next spring.

We’ll also be sharing the experiences of some of the Service leavers we’ve spoken with, including their journeys, how they found the process, and the support they accessed. You can read these here.  

 

GOVERNMENT URGED TO SCRAP VISA COSTS FOR
COMMONWEALTH VETERANS TO REMAIN IN THE COUNTRY

 

Leading Armed Forces charity Poppyscotland is backing a campaign to call on the government to take urgent action to address the issue of former UK Armed Forces personnel from Commonwealth countries having to pay large sums of money to stay in the country. 

During Service, Commonwealth personnel are exempt from UK immigration controls, but this exemption is removed immediately on discharge. Personnel who leave the Armed Forces after four years of service to the country are eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK. But they are compelled to pay visa application fees that have risen by 127 per cent in the last five years from £1,051 to £2,389. 

This means that a Service leaver and their partner face a bill of £4,778 to continue to live in the UK, before taking children and further dependents into account. Since the introduction of fees in 2003, fees have increased overall by 1,441 per cent. If veterans cannot pay these fees, or if their application fails, they can face deportation.  

Mark Bibbey, the Chief Executive at Poppyscotland, said: “Commonwealth veterans who  have left their homeland and given years of loyal service, deserve our gratitude and to have the opportunity to remain in the country they have served, without incurring significant financial costs. 

“This is a poor way of saying ‘thank you’ to people we encouraged to leave their countries to come to and serve in the British Armed Forces. Accordingly, we are joining The Royal British Legion in urging the Home Secretary to take action to help Commonwealth military veterans who have served this country loyally and abolish all visa application fees.” 

Whilst waiting for a decision on their settlement status, former Service personnel are unable to seek employment, unable to claim benefits or register with a GP. Those in need of support then have to rely on charities, including Poppyscotland. 

Mr Bibbey continued: “As well as selflessly serving our nation during their time in the military, Commonwealth veterans make an incredible positive contribution to society when they leave and settle in the UK.  This is something we should therefore encourage.” 

One such veteran is Jone Tolutinkaono, who came to these shores in 1998 from Fiji and subsequently spent seven years in the Royal Scots; a stint that included tours to Northern Ireland and Iraq. Then, in 2006, he was medically discharged following a serious knee injury.  Having dedicated eight years of Service to the country, Jone wanted to remain in Scotland with wife Karaleani and the couple’s four children.  

Jone estimates that the visa application fees cost him around £700. This was by no means an insignificant sum, but one that he and his wife were just about able to cover, especially as his four children were not liable for the fee as they were under 18 years of age. However, he cannot believe at what level the costs have now risen.

Jone, 48, who lives in Edinburgh, said: “Where would I have got that kind of money to allow me and my family to remain? I was lucky, but the situation is completely different now. I do not know what I would have done if that had been the level of the fees back when I applied. All veterans should have the right to remain. They have served and protected the country, and many, like me, have come to regard the United Kingdom as home. But now, people are struggling with the costs. I think it’s too expensive.” 

When building his life in Scotland, Jone wanted to find a job that would allow him to support his family and enable him to continue making a positive contribution to his adopted homeland. With some help from Poppyscotland, Jone was able to realise these ambitions and explains: “I wanted to go on a two-week course to become a 360-excavator driver, but I wasn’t sure how to pay for it. A fellow veteran told me that I might be able to get help from Poppyscotland, and, after speaking to them, I was given the funding I needed.  It has made a great difference. Life is good now. I am happy.” 

Jone has good memories of his time in the Army, as he explains: “I enjoyed it. I served with a lot of other Fijians and I really liked that. I enjoyed going to new places – it was a really good experience. What I enjoyed most was getting away from it all and seeing new and different places – especially Canada, which is a beautiful country.” 

And now, Jone and his family love life in Scotland: “The life here is better. It is peaceful and quiet, and the people are friendly and kind. I have even got used to the weather. Scotland has become our second home.”

 

Ends…

 

Newsletters

Veterans Scotland Newsletter

Read the latest issue and past issues of the veterans Scotland Newsletters  here

OSCR Reporter

Read the latest issue and past issues of the OSCR Reportter Newsletters  here

Veterans' Foundation

The Veterans' Foundation Grant Applications

Trustees of the Veterans Foundation allocate grants every three or four months.  They welcome applications from Armed Forces charities and other organisations carrying out charitable work for serving or veteran members of the Armed Forces, qualifying merchant seamen, and their dependants, who are in need. Deadlines for applications are the end of December, March, May and September each year. Further details can be found on the website www.veteransfoundation.org.uk/grant-application/ .

FiMT Reports

 

The UK Armed Forces Charity Sector: A Summary of Provision
Published: November 2018
Download this report
 
Veterans Work: Moving On
Published: November 2018
Download this report

Changing Our Approach to Veterans’ Employment


Summary Report of the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) Summit on ‘Transforming Perceptions and Unlocking Ex-Services Talent’, 8 October 2019