|The regular newsletter for all those who serve the ex-Service community|
Derek Twigg, Under Secretary of State for Defence and Minister for Veterans, explains how the MOD is honouring the Military Covenant for present and past Service personnel.
As Veterans Minister, the well-being of serving personnel and veterans is a top priority for me and the Government. The Royal British Legion’s recent “Honour the Covenant” campaign is timely and it helps encourage a public debate about the obligations owed by the Nation to those who have given so much. It is important that the whole of society plays a part.
The Government is fully committed to meeting our responsibilities. But of course there is more that can be done. I want to explain what we are doing now and the further work we are taking forward.
Let me touch briefly first on what we are doing for our brave men and women in Service. We hear daily of the selfless hard work and acts of heroism which British Armed Forces personnel continue to make, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan. To support them we have made improvements in Service pay, accommodation, health and welfare provisions and also force protection and personal equipment. I have seen for myself the expert medical treatment and care we now provide to injured personnel, whether at the frontline in Camp Bastion in Afghanistan or for returning casualties at Selly Oak and Headley Court in the UK.
For veterans themselves we are tackling issues of direct concern: veterans’ healthcare, inquests, the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme and the War Pension Scheme. You can find summaries on these four issues in this magazine’s centre page, but I want to touch on two of these issues myself now.
Firstly, I want to ensure you are aware of the major recent improvements we have made to veterans’ healthcare. Back in November, the Health Secretary Alan
Johnson and I announced the expansion of NHS priority treatment to all veterans, whose injuries or ill-health are suspected of being due to their service. We also announced a new model of community mental health services which will give veterans access to clinicians with expertise in veterans’ mental health care. The new model will be piloted at six sites across the UK for two years, with the eventual aim of a nationwide rollout.
Secondly, let me also set the record straight on the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme. The Scheme’s introduction in April 2005 provides valuable financial support to injured Service and ex-Service personnel by providing, for the first time, tax-free lump sum payments, as well as generous Guaranteed Income Payments (GiP) for life.
For the most seriously injured the GiP can amount to several hundreds of thousands of pounds during a lifetime. I recognise that no financial scheme can ever adequately compensate for the physical and mental loss sustained by our injured personnel but it is not capped like the civil scheme and we keep it continually under review.
In summary, we must ensure that the Covenant is upheld, particularly at this time when we are asking our people to do
so much. Our Forces are the best, and they deserve the best.
I firmly believe we are doing more than ever to support our armed forces personnel and veterans. As Veterans Minister I am determined to see that support maintained and improved. This is not just a matter for the Ministry of Defence but for Government and the nation as a whole. The partnership between the ex-Service organisations and Government is one that should be valued and strengthened.
This newsletter is produced on a quarterly basis, by the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency, as part of the Veterans Programme.
Editor: Clare Valentine
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