Veterans ID cards for former UK Armed Forces’ service leavers are expected to be made available by the end of 2019 – but what is known so far about how to apply and the requirements for an application? The Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced last year that the new Veterans ID cards would be issued to service leavers – that process has now started. Cards will also be available to other veterans towards the end of 2019 – however, an exact date has yet to be confirmed by the MoD.
What is the Veterans ID for?
Until plans for the Veterans ID card were made, there was no way for veterans to easily prove the fact that they had served. Previously, personnel were required to hand back their ID card (MoD 90) upon being discharged. The new Veteran ID card is to have two functions: to provide a memento of service, to maintain a tangible link to the Armed Forces, and to allow Veterans to easily verify their service to the NHS, their local authority, and charities, enabling them to access support and services where needed.
How will it be phased in?
Delivery of the new UK Veteran ID Card will be rolled out in two tranches:
Phase 1: The Veterans ID Card has already been provided to all Service Leavers as part of the discharge process with effect from 18th February 2019, and retrospectively to those who left on or after 17 December 2018.
Phase 2: Applications from the wider Veteran Community will be encouraged once the process has been agreed.
Can older veterans apply?
The application process has yet to be agreed and will be made available by the end of 2019. However, veterans who have already left the Armed Forces can register for the Defence Discount Service card, if they haven’t already.
While the Veteran ID card will act as proof of service and Veteran status, the Defence Discount card is recognised online and in high street shops to obtain Armed Forces discounts on a wide range of offers from things such as holidays, cars, days out, fashion, gifts, insurance, phones and many other items. The website is free to sign up to and to use the online discounts. To get your card, you can apply for it here and also find the list of companies which accept the discount card.
From this year personnel leaving the Armed Forces are also able to keep their military ID card, known as the ‘MoD Form 90’, in the hope that it will allow them to maintain their emotional connection with their service. Corners of their MoD form 90 will be cut off to indicate the card is no longer valid – although this has raised some concern about maintaining security at bases and other secure locations. Anyone interested in advice or details regarding the Veterans ID card should contact Veterans UK, which is a 24-hour service that directs ex-forces personnel to a range of support available to them. Services include housing and financial advice and career guidance.
The department should work with the services to assess staffing and training requirements for complaint handling, ensuring it is a “priority” and has enough resources, they added. The committee’s latest report, titled ‘Fairness without Fear: The work of the Service Complaints Ombudsman’, said the “negative culture” towards complaints has “discouraged serving personnel from coming forward and making a complaint”. It said the target of resolving 90% of service complaints within 24 weeks has not been achieved. The report went on to explain that complaints from black and minority ethnic and female personnel are “disproportionately high”:
“We seriously doubt that the current service complaints system is fit for purpose.”
“The whole system risks losing credibility in the absence of a plan to streamline procedures within the services.”
An MOD spokesperson said: “Everyone deserves to work in an environment where they are valued and treated with respect, and we thank the Defence Committee for their report, which echoes some of the findings in the review we commissioned into inappropriate behaviour in the Armed Forces. “Following this review, we have already accepted a number of recommendations to overhaul and improve the service complaints system, including encouraging personnel to come forward and creating a new authority to deal with the most serious allegations.”
Athlete Lynsey Kelley has told how competing at sports events as the Invictus UK Trials gave her back a sense of belonging after she was medically discharged from the Royal Air Force. Lynsey has been competing in swimming at the tournament in Sheffield – a major turnaround in her life after, in her own words she ‘lost her way’ after a diagnosis of compartment syndrome following pains in her legs.
The four-day event saw athletes compete in swimming, indoor rowing, powerlifting, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, archery, athletics, cycling and sitting volleyball. Lynsey has already competed in the Warrior Games and is now hoping she can secure a place at the Invictus Games with the UK swimming team. Since taking up a sport, Lynsey says she has become a nicer person and her work-life balance has improved. Adding:
“Sports recovery for me, and I know this is a bit cliche, but it’s literally changed my life and I think that as a result, I’ve become a nicer person to be around.
“My work output is much better. I’m more confident in myself. I don’t let the things that ever once bother me, you know, overwhelm me.
“I don’t have that desperation or that longing feeling for something else and I think being part of a sports team has just made me find my sense of belonging again.
Cross the Line
“Having been medically discharged from the Royal Air Force, I lost my way and it really made me quite unwell and I, I had a very fine line of, right. Do you stay where you are? Give up and just be a recluse for the rest of your life? Or do you cross that line and go out there and show the world who you are?
“I think it’s just given me my little bit of a zing back. So it’s done a lot for me.”
Around 350 other athletes at the trials are aiming to qualify for Team UK for the Invictus Games The Hague 2020. Lynsey will have a bit of a wait to find out if she has made the team, as names will be selected in October. If she makes the team or not, one of the things that has really helped Lynsey on her road to recovery is managing to remain in close contact with her former military colleagues and friends. She said:
“When I left the Royal Air Force, I was still around the military. My Ex-husband was in the army and then I moved back to RAF Brize Norton, which is where a lot of the people I used to work with live and my best friend is there as well.
“So I’ve never really been away from the military environment. Don’t know whether that’s a good thing or not. But I now work for the Ministry of Defense anyway. So I am still involved in that environment. But it’s not the same when you have a mental health issue or a physical disability, It’s almost as though you’re not good enough in some fashion.
“Coming to these sports recovery weekends and meeting up with all these people, It’s like you’re coming home again, That’s quite a cliche. But you come here and nobody cares what’s wrong with you. They care obviously about you, but they don’t care, there’s no label and it’s wonderful.
“I’m really inspired by other people and I think that’s what drives me to keep going cause it makes me realize that actually if they can do it, I can do it and I believe that if I can do it, anybody can do it and that’s the best thing.
“That’s what the camaraderie has done for all of us here. It’s just made us feel belonging again.”
After Lynsey left the RAF, she no longer participated in sports due to her injury, but with the support of family and friends, she was introduced to Help for Heroes, who have supported her to achieve her goal of competing at these events.
To any serving personnel or veterans struggling to get motivated enough to dust off their gym kit and get back into sports. Lynsey has this message:
“If anyone is in a similar situation to me and they didn’t feel confident getting their gym kit on going to the gym, or they just didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning. Please, please, please try. Try and do it, because if I can, I’m telling you now, you can, and it really is the best thing that I’ve ever done. “It’s given me purpose.”
The creation of the Office for Veterans’ Affairs has seen Oliver Dowden, MP for Hertsmere since 2015, selected for a new position. As part of a large defence shake-up in UK politics, Mr Dowden will represent veterans at the Cabinet table, working alongside Ministry of Defence (MOD) and Cabinet Office Minister Johnny Mercer to form a more holistic approach to veterans’ affairs.
Mr Johnson announced the opening of the Office, describing the veteran community as the ‘pinnacle of British character’: “It is absolutely right that the government should do all it can to support our armed forces from the day they enlist and for the rest of their lives.
“They have so much to offer our workplaces and wider society and it would be a dereliction of duty not to harness that potential.”
After the announcement of his new role, Mr Dowden said: “Our veterans have made extraordinary sacrifices for this country and it’s only right that we repay their commitment with the right support and care when they leave service.”
“I’m honoured to take on this role as a champion for veterans across government and will be a voice for their interests at the Cabinet table.”
A progress report on the work of the Office for Veterans’ Affairs will be delivered to the Prime Minister by the end of September. In addition to his new role, Mr Dowden will jointly chair the Ministerial Covenant and Veterans Board with new Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace.
Voting records details from TheyWorkForYou.com.
The UK’s first nurse to specialise in an asbestos-related cancer is to focus on patients with a military background. More than 2,600 people in the UK are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year, with 80-100 of those Armed Forces veterans. The disease, which is rarely possible to cure, is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos – an insulating material used in buildings between the 1940s and 1970s.
Asbestos was also commonly used in military vehicles, ships and buildings as a fire-resistant material. Helen Wilkes, who in 2018 became the UK’s only mesothelioma Clinical Nurse Specialist, is now focusing on helping serving personnel and veterans affected by cancer. “I often find that people once they’ve left the Armed Forces family, if you like, they often get away from all the support that there is and they’re not quite sure what there is,” she said “The Armed Forces project is trying to show them that there is support out there and so we can signpost them in the right way.
“When anyone’s diagnosed with cancer, especially mesothelioma, which is incurable, all the patient can remember is the word ‘cancer’. “That’s why I’m here to empower them and give them the right support, advice and information.”
The information Nurse Wilkes will be providing includes what benefits are available, treatment options, and the latest clinical trials. The nationwide programme is part of a Government-funded initiative, supported by money raised by two mesothelioma charities. Among those receiving care is RAF pilot veteran John Myers. Mr Myers recalled the moment he was diagnosed as “like being hit by an express train”.
His symptoms only appeared decades after he was exposed to asbestos. “Basically they say ‘you’ve got this disease, it is terminal, we can’t cure it but we can manage it’,” he said. “You just think ‘ah, wait a minute. That’s it, that’s the end’. But it isn’t, you can go on and people are there to help you do it.” “Helen understands the family affair of the forces and that’s a big help.
“At the moment, I’m in the very early stages but I suppose as times goes on, things are going to get sticky and that’s when I’m going to need the information to make my own decision about what I do next and that will be based on what Helen and other nurses tell me.”
Nurse Wilkes now holds a full-time role at Southampton General Hospital and will also work with a benefits advisor to look at benefits and compensation claims for military patients. She will also work alongside Sheffield University to carry out a military experience study to see how veterans can be better supported in future.
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Former Army officer Ben Wallace has been appointed as Defence Secretary, replacing Penny Mordaunt. Ms Mordaunt, herself a Royal Navy reservist, left her cabinet position after 85 days in post.
Speaking for the first time since the announcement, Mr Wallace said: “As a former officer with the Scots Guards, it is an honour to take up this role at the Ministry of Defence.
“I know first-hand the dedication and hard work of our Armed Forces and I will be committed to ensuring their interests come first.
“I look forward to getting started and meeting colleagues from across the department and our military.”
Mr Wallace was commissioned into the Scots Guards at 20 years of age and during the 1990s served in Northern Ireland, Germany, Cyprus and Central America. In 1992 he was mentioned in dispatches.
On his first day as Defence Secretary, Mr Wallace tweeted thanking his predecessor, Penny Mordaunt, saying he has “big shoes to fill”.
“She is a wonderful colleague and did a great job at the MOD,” he said.
Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt has today launched a public consultation on new measures to provide stronger legal protections for serving and former armed forces personnel from alleged historical offences.
In recent years, overseas operations have given rise to thousands of allegations of wrongdoing, most of which only emerged years after the event. These have had a significant impact on members of the armed forces and veterans who have either been the subject of criminal investigations or interviewed as witnesses. At the same time, others have been called upon to give evidence on behalf of the Ministry of Defence, which has had to deal with thousands of civil claims at a great cost to the taxpayer.
The consultation, which will be open for 12 weeks, will allow the public to share their views on new proposals to ensure that service personnel and veterans are not subjected to repeated investigations on historical operations. The proposals include:
- Creating in law a presumption that current or former personnel will not normally face prosecution for alleged offences committed in the course of duty abroad more than 10 years ago
- Creating a new partial defence to murder, which would allow the courts to recognise the operational context in which deaths occur
- Restricting the ability of the Courts to extend the time limit for bringing civil claims for personal injury and/or death
Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt said:
If we are asking people to put their lives on the line to protect our country, we need to make sure we look after them in return.
The proposed new measures are not about making the armed forces somehow above or exempt from the law, but recognising the unique pressures faced by personnel in the field. They will also ensure that, save for exceptional cases, personnel will no longer have to live with the threat of prosecution hanging over them for many years after the alleged incident.
Lines to be Drawn
The consultation proposes legislating for a presumption against prosecution for alleged offences committed on operations abroad over ten years ago because the law currently does not allow for lines to be drawn under allegations with any confidence. Under this proposal, any prosecutions for offences committed over ten years ago would only be taken forward under exceptional circumstances, such as significant new evidence emerging.
It also proposes amending the law to better reflect the operational context, and the unique pressures faced by military personnel – particularly junior soldiers, who may otherwise be prosecuted for murder in relation to deaths where quick decisions were made in highly pressured situations. The proposed partial defence to murder would mean that personnel who cause death by using more force than strictly necessary for self-defence would have their conviction reduced from murder to manslaughter. In these circumstances, the requirement for the initial use of force for self-defence must still be justified.
The third proposal is to change the time limit for civil litigation. Military operations in Iraq resulted in claims being brought against the MOD on an industrial scale, with nearly 1000 claims seeking compensation for personal injury or death. The current law which provides a time limit to such cases – three years for personal injury or death and one year for human rights climates – gives the courts broad discretion to allow claims to proceed, even when they are brought many years after the limit. The MOD’s proposals would restrict the court’s discretion to extend the time limit to ten years, allowing a line to be drawn under claims for historical incidents overseas.
While the proposals outlined today will provide further protections to UK forces, the military will continue to operate to strict and high standards, complying with both UK and international law, including the Geneva Conventions. Any allegations of wrongdoing will continue to be investigated properly and the armed forces will continue to be held to account.
Today’s consultation does not cover Northern Ireland as the MOD is feeding into the next steps of the Northern Ireland Office’s work on addressing legacy issues of Northern Ireland’s past. This includes contributing lessons learned from the department’s experience of the Iraq Historic Allegations Team and of historical investigations into allegations from Afghanistan.
Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt has announced an above-inflation pay rise for the armed forces, with the lowest-paid soldiers, sailors and airmen and women receiving a 6% increase to ensure they receive a living wage.
The Ministry of Defence has accepted in full the Armed Forces’ Pay Review Body’s recommendations for a 2.9% pay rise this financial year. This pay rise – the highest since 2007 – represents an annual increase of £995 in the average salary for personnel.
A separate pay rise has also been awarded to the lowest-paid personnel, with the basic pay for newly trained sailors, soldiers, and airmen and women, rising by £1,140. This increase means that after basic training, new and junior personnel will receive an annual salary of £20,000 a year.
This represents an above-inflation 6% pay rise for the most junior service personnel and delivers on the Defence Secretary’s recent commitment to introducing a living wage for the lowest-paid military personnel.
Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt said:
No soldier, sailor, airman or woman should be asked to serve our country and not be properly rewarded, which is why I’m pleased we have accepted the pay review body’s recommendation for an above-inflation rise this year.
But in order to attract and retain the best talent, we need to make sure even the lowest paid members of the armed forces receive an acceptable salary to live on. Today’s 6% pay rise for junior personnel will ensure they receive a living wage and show the armed forces is an attractive career option.
The annual pay award will be implemented in September’s salaries and will be backdated from April.
In June, the Defence Secretary announced that the MOD would work on providing a living wage to those lowest paid personnel in the armed forces. While the military does not work contracted hours, the 6% pay rise ensures that the lowest paid will receive a living wage. Personnel also has access to subsided accommodation and non-contributory pensions.
Two million public service workers including the Armed Forces are reportedly set to be given a £2 billion pay rise. The Times reports that soldiers will receive an increase of 2.9%, while police officers and dentists/consultants will both receive a 2.5% pay rise. Meanwhile, teachers and school staff are expected to receive a 2.75% rise and civil servants 2%. The newspaper suggests the Treasury will unveil the biggest public sector boost for six years on Monday before Theresa May’s tenure as Prime Minister comes to an end.
Speaking to Forces News on Thursday, the Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt said improved pay was one of her priorities before the new Prime Minister is announced. Public sector pay rises were capped at 1% after the Conservative-led coalition came to power in 2010. Theresa May then continued with the cap until last year. Jonathan Cribb, a senior research economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, told the Times: “These public sector pay rises are higher than last year’s and considerably higher than the 1% for many years before that.
“It is the highest nominal pay increase since the coalition. But these increases are still slower than pay rises that are happening on average in the private sector. “With the partial exception of schools, there seems to be no new money to fund these pay rises, meaning savings will have to be made elsewhere.” The new pay rises are expected to be funded by existing budgets. Last month, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn vowed to give “fair pay” to the military and end privatisation in the Armed Forces.