Armed Forces and Veterans champion at Scottish Borders Council, John Greenwell, is urging people to sign up for the revamped army reserve.
Military recruiters are about to descend on the region seeking the first intake of volunteers to the newly expanded Army Reserve, better known as the Territorial Army, and which aims to be fully manned at 30,000 strong by 2018.
“They are looking to recruit about 200 from the Borders, aged from 18-28 years,” explained Councillor Greenwell.
“The reserve force is confident it can achieve the level of recruiting required. One concern though is that it isn’t getting the message through to the general public.”
As the UK Government develops a new-look armed services model, with fewer full-time service personnel and more reservists, it has improved the package on offer to part-time recruits.
It is spending £1.2billion in the next seven years, ensuring there is a fully manned Army Reserve that is properly trained and equipped.
Improved conditions for Army Reservists include Armed Forces pension entitlements being introduced in 2015; better training and access to the equipment used by regular troops; access to key defence health services when training and on operations; transferable skills and academic qualifications.
Reservists will be committing to 40 days of training a year, up from a current average of 35; and there will be greater employment protection, plus better support for reservists in unfair dismissal cases.
Employers will also benefit from the scheme and small and medium enterprises will get £500 a month, per reservist, on top of allowances already available when reservist employees are mobilised. Employers will also be given more notice when employees are to be deployed.
“There are a lot of people sitting at home because they haven’t got a job – that’s the first area the recruitment team will be targeting,” said Mr Greenwood.
“And there are some who can only get part-time work and have time to spare.
“6 SCOTS will be in the Borders in the next couple of week to recruit for the Army Reserves and the message they are trying to get across is that terms and conditions have changed.”