Labour Initiative to appoint Veterans’ Champions

January 14, 2013
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A Labour initiative, which will see the launch of a nationwide campaign to support former military personnel, aims to appoint a veterans champion in every community.

The champion will be a “one-stop shop” for all ex members of the military and will be able to provide advice to ex-personnel on a number of matters including what charities may be available in the area, what benefits they may be entitled to and what services there are to help.

The support available will include guiding clients towards agencies which provide assistance to those leaving the services with mental health issues.

It is hoped that the initiative will help bridge the gap for military personnel in their return to civilian life for whatever reason whether it be down to the latest tranche of redundancies, a medical discharge or just a standard retirement.

The Shadow Defence Secretary, Mr Jim Murphy, will set out details of the proposals during a visit to East London this week.

The local council in Barking & Dagenham have already said they are going to announce the appointment of a cabinet member for the armed forces with the specific responsibility of looking after the welfare of ex-military personnel.

Mr Murphy says that “our country is brilliant at turning civilians into soldiers, but we are not good enough when the time comes to turning soldiers back into civilians”.

As a military solicitor acting for injured serving and ex-personnel I can’t help but agree.

The initiative will allow each council to decide, itself, how it can best serve the needs of its local ex-military personnel.

Some councils already have a veterans champion but the Labour Party wants every council to consider employing one. As well as Barking & Dagenham, other councils announcing similar plans include Carlisle, Plymouth, Slough, Ipswich and Newcastle-under-Lyme.

This has to be a positive move.

The tales of soldiers returning from war with mental health issues and being medically discharged, or unable to find work post-military have become all too common; there seems to be a stream of stories detailing the breakdown and, in some cases, suicides of, ex-military personnel who feel that they have nobody to turn to and nobody who really knows what they need.

The initiative for a veterans champion in every Council is, I believe, a very positive step forward and I do hope that every Council takes note and applies the scheme to their own area.

For more information read the Guardian Article at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/jan/14/military-forces-community-champions-labour

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