- Part of:
- Equality and rights
Renewed commitment to support the Forces, veterans and families.
Scotland's Armed Forces and veterans community is to receive more support than ever before, Veterans Minister Keith Brown said today.
Renewing Our Commitments – a Programme for Government pledge – outlines the Scottish Government's ambition of making Scotland the destination of choice for those leaving the military.
Mr Brown today visited Veterans First Point Lothian in Edinburgh, where he announced a £200,000 grant for the organisation next year to continue to provide a one-stop-shop for veterans needs.
Renewing Our Commitments affirms the Scottish Government's commitment that no-one should suffer disadvantage as a result of military service.
It sets out priorities the Scottish Government will pursue in partnership with organisations to continue to support our Armed Forces and veterans community, including:
- Develop a programme of work that will identify and tackle any barriers experienced by Service leavers when seeking civilian employment
- Building stronger working relationships between the Scottish Government, veterans community, and private sector employers
- Accelerate moves to promote clear signposting for service delivery through the Veterans Assist website.
- Ensure long-term clinical needs are better understood and supported within the NHS and improve transition pathways for those leaving the services.
Speaking at the launch of Renewing Our Commitments, Mr Brown said:
"Our Armed Forces and veterans community is an asset to Scotland which makes a valuable contribution to our society.
"Since I commissioned Our Commitments in 2012, we have developed a widespread network of Armed Forces and Veterans Champions, established the first ever Scottish Veterans Commissioner, and committed more than £10 million to organisations supporting veterans on housing, healthcare, employability and other needs.
"My ambition is to make Scotland the most attractive place to be for service leavers and their families, with high living standards, great career prospects and a society that values their contribution. I want to focus on private sector employers to promote skills and experience that veterans have to offer, and giving veterans confidence to aim high in their career choices.
"Service personnel and their families are also important. We have a good track record of support to families, particularly children moving to the Scottish education system. We want to re-evaluate our offer to families and see what more we can do.
"I pay tribute to our partners across the public, private and third sectors who work tirelessly to give our Armed Forces community the high levels of support that they deserve."
"Veterans First Point Lothian is an excellent example of the support available, providing a one-stop-shop to help veterans and their families with a range of needs. The success of this model has been widely recognised and I am delighted to confirm a further £200,000 funding to Veterans First Point Lothian."
Eric Fraser CBE, Scottish Veterans Commissioner, said:
"Much has been done - and continues to be done - in Scotland to support our ex-Service personnel, to provide vital assistance where required, help them flourish 'beyond the wire' and ensure none are disadvantaged because of their prior military service. However, there is more that can be done and it is therefore encouraging, and reassuring, that the Scottish Government has now renewed its commitment to the Armed Forces community and highlighted its priorities for the future.
"As Veterans Commissioner I strongly welcome this announcement and am particularly pleased to see the Scottish Government recognising the skills, experience and wider contribution Servicemen and women, and their families, make to Scotland's economy, communities and workplaces. I look forward to working with the government and the many other organisations that support the ex-Service community to build upon past initiatives. In doing so, I will continue to champion the causes of veterans (young and old), promote their many talents and do my part in making Scotland a 'destination of choice' for all those about to leave the Services."
Colonel Martin Gibson, Executive Chairman of Veterans Scotland, said:
"The Scottish Government's Renewing Our Commitments paper will help to create the conditions for successful transition for Service leavers and enable them to make a full contribution to society. Most Service leavers transition well, but some may face disadvantage in Housing, Employment and Finance; Veterans Scotland, working in partnership with the Scottish Government, seek to ensure that those delivering such services have a thorough understanding of the types of disadvantages that may be faced and know how to reduce these."
Renewing Our Commitments is downloadable here – www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/02/1650
In 2012, the Scottish Government published its original "Our Commitments" paper, complementing the values of the Armed Forces Covenant and pledging measures to support the Armed Forces, veterans and their families in Scotland. Achievements include:
- Establishment of the first ever Scottish Veterans Commissioner – the first of its kind in the UK – with operational independence, dedicated funding and a wide remit to drive improved outcomes for veterans.
- More than £1 million committed to support to organisations working with veterans, including over £830,000 for projects through the Scottish Veterans Fund.
- Almost £4 million to support housing developments for veterans, run by Scottish Veterans Residences and Scottish Veterans Garden City Association.
- More than £3.6 million for specialist mental health services for veterans, provided by Combat Stress in Ayr.
- More than £1.6 million to establish and support Veterans First Point Lothian, an innovative one-stop-shop drop in centre for veterans and families.
- 50 targeted places for Early Service Leavers, within the £1.3 million Community Jobs Scotland programme.
There have also been major institutional improvements to embed consideration of the Armed Forces community within public bodies, through a network of Champions, advocates and working groups on education and criminal justice.