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Many people leaving the military often fail to plan far enough ahead of their final day in uniform and it can also be a minefield trying to navigate around the many organisations that support the Armed Forces community. Veterans Gateway has launched a campaign which will guide service leavers through the process of leaving – and it could prove a useful first point of contact for those seeking support.
Long and Complicated
The transition to civvy street can be a long and complicated process, so leaving everything to the last three months is often not a sufficient time for personnel to get their life in order.
Veterans’ Gateway was launched in 2017 following Lord Ashcroft’s Veteran’s Transition review and is funded by The Armed Forces Covenant. The organisations have come together to formally to deliver a service to help the Armed Forces community. With over 2,000 military charities available to the Armed Forces Community, it was thought there was a clear need for a dedicated service to be the first point of contact for the veteran community.
Veteran’s Gateway represents a pathway to a full list of services from housing to mental health services, from financial to employment advice. The service also helps signpost a veteran and his or her family to experts who can help with whatever they need. Veterans Gateway has a specialist team of veterans from across all three services, and they are on hand 365 days a year. The advisors are on hand not only to assist with signposting queries’ but can also help a veteran or family member in a crisis.
Chris, one of the Helpline Advisors, joined the Royal Air Force in 1985 and served almost 10 years before being medically discharged. He admits it took him a lot of time to be able to settle back into civilian life. Chris said:
“I have been in the same position as a lot of people who are calling us here at Veterans Gateway so I can use my personal experiences to point them in the right direction for the best help.”
The transition can sometimes feel like the biggest burst of ‘life admin’ you will ever experience but planning early enough and breaking it down into steps will make it easier. Then you can begin to enjoy the opportunities that life can bring after a career in the military, you will definitely have some extraordinary dits to tell in the bar from your time serving, the only problem is, unfortunately, the drinks will never be as cheap as in the mess.
Veterans’ Gateway is available to you whether you’re in day one of your new life on civvy street or if in weeks, months or even years down the line you are in need of help and advice. Whether there is a simple question you need answering, or you have a situation that may need specialist support, the service can be contacted and the experts will do the rest. Full Story and Links
To contact Veterans’ Gateway
Call: 0808 802 1212 visit: www.veteransgateway.org.uk or text: 81212
The South Staffordshire MP says one of his biggest regrets as a minister is the fact that the famous county name is no longer tied to the armed forces. He said he was deeply saddened by the situation and revealed he had looked into the “incredibly difficult” task of bringing it back. The Staffordshire Regiment was amalgamated with the Cheshire Regiment and the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters regiment to form the Mercians in 2004.
Mr Williamson, who has a photograph of the Staffordshire Regiment on his office desk at the MoD, said he had wanted to “strengthen ties” between the British Army and the county since becoming Defence Secretary in November 2017.”It has been a real point of sadness for me while I have been in the Ministry of Defence that we no longer have any of the organisations within the Army that bear the Staffordshire name,” he said.
“Staffordshire has had such strong historical links with the Army and it is a shame that the name has been allowed to die out. “It is a powerful thing for the Army to have close ties with the community, and Staffordshire and the surrounding areas – particularly Dudley, Wolverhampton and Walsall – have always been major recruiting areas.”Constituents often raise the issue with me, and I know that seeing the Staffordshire name back with the Army would mean an awful lot to them. I can’t stress enough the importance of the bond that a name can help forge, really helping communities to take the Armed Forces to heart.”
On the prospect of the Staffordshire name returning to Army circles, he said: “I want to see it restored, but it is a real challenge. It is something that I keep looking at. I would dearly love to work out a way to reunite the great Staffordshire name with the Army, but it is an incredibly difficult task.” The Staffordshire Regiment was formed in 1959 when The South Staffordshire Regiment and The North Staffordshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’) were merged.
Its history can be traced back to the Kings Head pub in Lichfield in 1705 when a regiment known as the 38th Foot (1st Staffordshire Regiment)was formed by Colonel Luke Lillingston. In 2014, the 3rd Battalion the Mercian Regiment (Staffords) was axed under cuts announced by the then Defence Secretary Philip Hammond.
The joint agreement between the MOD and NHS England, developed with the Department of Health and Social Care, will ensure that individuals with very complex and enduring healthcare requirements transitioning out of the military into civilian life will continue to receive comprehensive support. The new approach will benefit individuals such as Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson, who was severely injured in Afghanistan. Ben has been medically discharged from the Army, following agreement with his family that his care needs would continue to be met in civilian life.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:
Ben has given a lot for this country and I’d like to thank him and his family for all they have done throughout this process.
We have now agreed a package of support for Ben, to ensure that he gets the right care as he leaves the Army and moves into civilian life.
This new support package will also benefit other serving personnel who have been seriously injured.
Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, said:
Those who bravely serve our country deserve its full support, and in the NHS we are committed to playing our part. That’s why we’re now expanding the dedicated care for those who need it from highly skilled teams of NHS nurses, therapists and doctors.
As well as the establishment of the new framework, known as Armed Forces personnel in transition, Integrated Personal Commissioning for Veterans (IPC4V), the MOD will now provide extra funding to a very small number of individuals injured in service, and Armed Forces Compensation Scheme recipients who require 24 hour, one to one care from a trained individual. The funding, which has currently been set as £24,000 per year, for life, can be spent on health and wellbeing activities which are above those already provided by statutory services to enable a better quality of life for this small number of individuals.
Minister for Defence People and Veterans Tobias Ellwood said:
It’s right that we do everything we can to support those service personnel who have been severely wounded while serving our country.
This new framework will ease the transition into civilian life for the small number of military personnel who have been badly injured.
The joint approach between the MOD, the NHS, and local authorities to provide this comprehensive care demonstrates the Armed Forces Covenant in action.
Available in England, the new ICP4V framework will provide personalised care for armed forces personnel who have complex and enduring healthcare requirements that have resulted from injury whilst in service. This is part of the expansion of support for all veterans and their families as they transition out of the armed forces under the NHS Long Term Plan.
Health Secretary, Matt Hancock said:
We owe enormous gratitude to the brave men and women of our armed forces, like Ben, who have risked their lives for our safety and security.
Their health and wellbeing must be our priority and we have a duty to provide excellent specialist care no matter what their physical or mental health needs.
The NHS is there for all of us when we need it most and this new package of support, delivered as part of our Long Term Plan for the NHS, will provide the ongoing care which our veterans deserve.
Jointly developed between the MOD, NHS England, service charities including Blesma, the Royal British Legion and Help for Heroes, and local authorities, as well as with patients and their families, IPC4V provides a framework for effectively planning and delivering personalised care in line with the health commitments of the Armed Forces Covenant. This will now start around nine months before personnel are due to leave the military.
In particular, individuals will benefit from the following:
Personalised care and support planning starting before they have been discharged from the Armed Forces, drawing together the appropriate health and social care specialists, the MOD, local commissioners and military charities.
A single integrated personalised care and support plan for all their health and wellbeing needs, including the option of a personal budget, personal health budget or integrated personal budget for all or part of their care.
Ongoing support to help ensure that they are an active participant in the planning and management of their own health and wellbeing, with outcomes and solutions having meaning and context within their life.
A dedicated Veterans Welfare Manager, employed by the MOD who will be a central point of contact for the individual and all involved organisations. The Veterans Welfare Manager will provide a range of support, including ‘guided conversations’ to help the individual identify goals and actions and explore the management of their health and wellbeing within the context of their whole life and family situation. They will also make connections to community based resources, including veteran specific organisations, facilitate appropriate referrals back into health or social care and arrange at a minimum an annual review of the individual’s care with them and each involved organisation and will have the ability to escalate any concerns in to the Ministry of Defence.
Since its launch April 2017, over 6,000 ex-service personnel have been helped to settle back into civilian life through NHS’ ‘Transition, Intervention and Liaison’ service, (TILS). Several trusts have been accredited as ‘Veteran Aware’, which means veterans will be cared for by staff who have been trained on how to treat their specific needs, and can refer them to their local support services.
Around 7,000 Armed Forces personnel are to receive a tax refund of more than £2,000. The UK Government is has announced to extend provision of financial mitigation for servicemen and women having to pay higher rates of income tax in Scotland, it has been announced. A divergence in rates means that income tax higher earners in Scotland pay more than they do in the rest of the UK.
Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Theresa May said that around 7,000 military personnel in Scotland would receive compensation to ensure that all soldiers pay the same across the UK. HMNB Clyde in Faslane is the home of core of the Royal Navy’s Submarine Service, and 45 Commando Royal Marines are based at RM Condor in Arbroath. It means that servicemen and women could be liable to receive around £2,200 in a single annual payment, made in 2020, in order to offset the difference over the 2019/2020 financial year.
In July last year, the UK Government announced it would provide financial mitigation for troops after changes to tax rates were first introduced at Holyrood. Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Our armed forces are deployed where they are most needed and so it is wrong that personnel are penalised or left hundreds of pounds out of pocket because of decisions taken by the Scottish Government. “As a result of this decision, I am extending the financial mitigation package for serving personnel in Scotland for another tax year. This demonstrates our commitment to treating all personnel both equally and fairly, wherever they serve.”
Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell described the tax bands set out by the Scottish Government as “unfair”. He said: “Our servicemen and women make a huge contribution to Scottish communities and the economy and it is unfair for them to be hit in the pocket by the Scottish Government’s decision to make Scotland the highest taxed part of the UK. “I welcome the Defence Secretary’s confirmation that the UK Government will continue to protect our military personnel from this Scottish Government imposed penalty.”
Scottish Government Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said: “As a result of the Scottish Government’s progressive tax system most Scottish income taxpayers – including thousands of armed forces personnel – will pay less income tax than people earning the same and living in the rest of the UK. “We are fully committed to supporting the armed forces community. “Scotland continues to be an attractive place to live, work and do business with armed forces families in Scotland able to access many services and benefits not available elsewhere in the UK. “It is disappointing that, despite Scottish Ministers making an offer last year to discuss the differential taxation of military personnel, the MoD has continued to fail to consult the Scottish Government on this issue.”
A report has been commissioned by the Prime Minister to look at improving retention of personnel in the Armed Forces. It comes after more than 5% (7,500) quit the military in 2017 – an increase from just under 4% in 2010.
Mr Francois told Forces News that retention in the Armed Forces is “getting worse”. “We really have to do something to address the retention issue, not least for the sake of personnel and their families, but also for operational reasons – for defence,” he explained. “We cannot defend the United Kingdom if we haven’t got the skilled personnel there to do it.”
“We’ve got to do something to improve retention within the Armed Forces, the idea of this report is to try and work out what that is and try and make it happen.”
The initial findings of the report will be shown to the Prime Minister and Defence Secretary by the end of July. The full report will be released by the end of 2019. On Monday, Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffith said the size of the Army was “in freefall”, with numbers having dropped from 78,000 to 75,900 in just under two years.
During defence questions, Ms Griffith said Minister for Armed Forces Mark Lancaster should quit if the number fell below 70,000. But Mr Lancaster said he would “certainly not” quit and dismissed claims that Army numbers were in freefall. He said the Ministry of Defence is “confident that numbers will increase” and “the Army remains at 93% manning and can meet all of its operational commitments”.
A charity is connecting veterans struggling because of mental health issues with horses to promote confidence. HorseHeard uses the animals based at the Merrist Wood College to create calmness and aid the veterans’ emotional wellbeing. “[Veterans] have experiences deep inside them, which perhaps other people cannot understand,” said Andrew McFarlane, Chairman of HorseHeard.
However, horses seem to be good companions for ex-personnel dealing with mental health issues. Jeffrey Stockwell served in the military for 16 years before an accident left him permanently blind. Mr Stockwell and his dog Twyford are in their fourth week of the HorseHeard programme. “If I am really calm, then they are calm,” said Mr Stockwell talking about his service dog and the horse. “[The horse] just bent down and they gave each other a kiss,” he said with a smile.
Andy Newell was in the parachute regiment for most of his career, but after leaving the Army in 2010 it was difficult for him to get back into civilian life. When he joined the HorseHeard programme, he did not trust horses. That has changed dramatically. He was very wary of horses, but he said the programme allowed him to relax a lot more:
“I destress when I am with the horses. I find it very therapeutic.”
Alan Walker served in the military for 24 years. He had a horse growing up and spending time with the animals he has loved since a young age has helped his recovery. “There is a part that goes down the back of the horse, just above the neck muscle… you do not have to press hard, just put your fingers there and leave it, and the horse starts to relax,” he explained.
“Not only you are destressing the horse, but yourself as well.”
The charity has been helping anyone in need all over the United Kingdom for five years, but going forward with the veteran programme will require funding. Compared to the financial, social and emotional cost of supporting jobless or isolated veterans, the cost of the programme is “repaid many times over”, said Mr McFarlane.
“It helps them moving towards a settled, civilian life.”
The use of horses to assist with mental health treatment continues to grow and so far it has positively changed the lives of many.
The voices of Second World War veterans and their relatives are being recorded to mark the 75th anniversary of some of the conflict’s most momentous battles. Their stories will be captured for an online sound archive created by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC). ‘Voices of Liberation’ has been set up to commemorate more than 100,000 service personnel who died in 1944.
Best and Worst
The public will be able to explore and range of recordings and add their own. Among the contributors is 99-year-old Victor Gregg, who served with the Parachute Regiment and was captured by the Nazis at the Battle of Arnhem in 1944. “I was a frontline soldier from the day war was declared right to the gruesome end,” Mr Gregg explains.
“I was never out of a frontline unit so I can presume that I’ve seen it all – the best things that man can do and probably the worst.”
In another poignant recording, Alan Gaudern, 74, reads the last letter from his father, who was killed before they met on 11 July 1944. The letter, addressed to Mr Gaudern’s mother Ethel, said: “You know we’ve faced up to the likelihood I may not come back… but you know I feel I shall come back because I want to so much. “We’ve had a perfect married life together, haven’t we? We must look forward to a more settled future. “But if I don’t come back I want you know how much I owe to you and thank you for our lovely life together and to let you know it isn’t my wish that you remain a widow, if you really fall in love again.”
The CWGC hopes the archive will be a fitting tribute to the dead and highlight its cemeteries and memorials across the world. Chief archivist Andrew Fetherston said: “We believe that by capturing these stories from the public we are creating an archive of international importance and a lasting legacy for those who died for our today.
“We want people to share their connections to the war and our cemeteries to ensure that as Commonwealth nations we have not forgotten their sacrifice.”
The public can contribute to ‘Voices of Liberation’ on the CWGC’s website.
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Armed Forces Day 2019 is just 100 days away, with preparations underway for the national event in Salisbury and hundreds of community events across the country. Now in its 11th year, Armed Forces Day is an opportunity for the nation to thank Servicemen and women, past and present, for their readiness to serve and protect the UK and its interests both at home and abroad.
To mark the milestone, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson met members of Armed Forces personnel at Ministry of Defence headquarters. Beginning the countdown to Saturday 29 June, he said:
I’m thrilled that the Armed Forces Day national event will take place in Salisbury this year in just 100 days’ time. The urgent, expert response of the Armed Forces to the Salisbury attack is just one reason why we’re all so grateful for their service.
Armed Forces Day is an annual celebration of the very special relationship between members of our Armed Forces and the people they serve. Communities across the UK will come together to thank the Armed Forces for their dedication, expertise and excellence. I encourage everyone to get involved this year and show their support.
The national event will give the people of Salisbury and the public as a whole the change to thank the Armed Forces for their tireless support towards the city’s recovery following last year’s Novichok attacks. Salisbury has many current and historic links to the Armed Forces and is home to several Army bases and Salisbury Plain, one of the UK’s biggest military training areas. In 100 days time, hundreds of communities across the UK will celebrate Armed Forces Day with street parties, parades, barbecues and tea dances.