Fresh aid for area’s military veterans

THERE has been a welcome from the Borders for the new blueprint to ensure the wellbeing of Scotland’s armed services personnel and veterans, writes Mark Entwistle.

Announced on Monday by Holyrood’s Veterans Minister Keith Brown, the Armed Forces Commitments Paper sets out what the Scottish Government is doing to address the health, housing, education and justice needs of current and former service men and women.

It also lays out how the government says it will work with partner organisations to ensure consistent support for this group.

A number of key commitments outlined in the paper have already been undertaken by the Scottish Government.

They include providing online advice to service families about education for their children, allowing service personnel to apply for social housing prior to discharge from the Armed Forces and providing injured veterans with state of the art prosthetic limbs.

It also includes creating the Scottish Veterans’ Fund – an initiative which has so far provided £400,000 of grant assistance to 60 projects since its inception in 2008.

Launching the commitments paper at Edinburgh Castle, Mr Brown said Scotland’s soldiers, sailors and airmen and airwomen were amongst the best in the world and deserved wholehearted care and support.

Councillor John Greenwell, Scottish Borders Council’s (SBC) Armed Forces and Veterans’ Champion, responded to Mr Brown’s statement, saying anything to help veterans was welcomed.

He commented: “The council has given a strong commitment to the armed forces and its veterans by being one of the first to sign up to the Armed Forces Community Covenant and, as the Armed Forces and Veterans’ Champion, I welcome any initiative by the Government to help our veterans.”

But ghe warned: “It is not easy to locate all of our veterans as soon as they leave the forces as some soldiers leaving the Armed Forces shun the resettlement process for one reason or another and then only hit the radar of local services when they are in need.”

He went on: “My task, along with other bodies, is to try and reach out to all veterans living in the Scottish Borders and make them aware of what help is available to them through our public services.

“The council’s aim over the next year or so is to run a campaign to make all of our public services – such as health, housing and welfare – aware of the needs of veterans.

“We owe that much to the young men and women who have offered their lives in our service in recent conflicts and also to our veterans who did the same in the two world wars to secure our safety.”