This article was published by Chloe’s office in her absence on maternity leave.
“The Ministry of Defence has a responsibility to ensure that the transition from service to civilian life is as smooth as possible, allowing service personnel process to draw upon the vast array of transferable skills they have obtained in service.”
This was the argument put forward by the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Defence, Mark Lancaster, in a debate on veteran’s care held recently in Parliament. Chloe is a supporter of the Royal British Legion in Norwich and has spoken in numerous parliamentary debates on how the Armed Forces Covenant can be better applied.
More information on the Armed Forced Covenant can be read here:
The Minister emphasised that most of those who leave the military transition well to civilian life. A robust and effective resettlement system, known as the career transition partnership, helps 85% find sustainable employment within six months of leaving the military. That said, there are of course many who do not, and for these men and women it is vital that the right support be given.
Leading the debate, Johnny Mercer, himself a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, spoke passionately about the need for action:
“Why do we have to do this? I ask you, Madam Deputy Speaker, to put yourself in the shoes of the average user—a corporal who is two or three years out. He gave the best years of his life to the service of this country, willingly. Now, in a civilian job, he starts to find his past a challenge to deal with. We have all seen someone like him in our constituencies, up and down this land. He does not want sympathy; when the bell came, he was proud to serve this nation of ours. He just wants to know where to go. He does not want to have to re-tell his story all the time. His wife wants to know that the course he is doing is safe, that he will be looked after and that his treatment has a fair chance of working. She wants to know that someone will be managing his case, taking an interest and encouraging him through the process. Crucially, she wants to know that he will get that help in a timely manner before his condition deteriorates and becomes so much harder and so much more costly to treat.”
A key question during the debate was of course the Armed Forces Covenant. Prior to going on maternity leave, Chloe expressed concern that there has been far too much variation in the way the Covenant is applied, which is often down to lack of information. This point was recognised in the debate, in which the Minister said:
“The covenant has not been applied consistently across the United Kingdom. I have had such a concern for some time. That is why I commissioned the Forces in Mind Trust to do a review of the covenant across the United Kingdom earlier this year, and it has recently published a very extensive report that aims to share best practice.”
A key area for change is identifying veterans in the community, so that the right support can be offered. As laudable as the 85% achievement is, this still leaves a sizeable number who slip through the gaps. Including a veterans question on the census will make it easier for those struggling to be identified and supported. Furthermore, a veterans’ gateway providing a single point of contact is due to be introduced next year.
A culture of career management is to be encouraged. Not everyone will be in the military for life, so anyone joining our army, navy or air force needs to be aware of the possibility of a fulfilling career after the military, and how they can prepare for theirs from day one. The military, government, charities and the private sector will collaborate and cooperate in order to achieve this.
A full report of the debate can be read here: