Armed Forces Day: SNP chief whip demands reforms to Veterans UK over lack of support

A leading SNP MP has demanded major reforms to the body set up to support UK military veterans, claiming nothing has been done to provide financial or mental health support for those leaving the forces.
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Speaking to mark Armed Forces Day today, the SNP’s Westminster chief whip Owen Thompson said many were facing a “battle against bureaucracy” in their dealings with Veterans UK to access crucial assistance.

A customer satisfaction survey run earlier this year into Veterans UK – the Ministry of Defence organisation responsible for supporting the UK’s 2.4 million veterans – showed on a scale of one to ten, half of respondents gave the lowest possible score of one for the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme.

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A total of 87 per cent of respondents gave scores of five or less.

Veterans march for Armed Forces Day. Picture David Lowndes/NationalWorldVeterans march for Armed Forces Day. Picture David Lowndes/NationalWorld
Veterans march for Armed Forces Day. Picture David Lowndes/NationalWorld
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Mr Thompson, the SNP’s Midlothian MP, said: “Throughout wars and crises, like in the recent pandemic, we’ve relied on the selflessness of our armed forces to protect our freedoms and keep us safe from harm … it’s only right that, at the very least, we ensure they are supported in meeting the costs of illness, injuries or mental health issues that they obtained or were exacerbated during their time in service.”

The SNP Westminster chief whip recently presented a Private Members’ Bill aimed at setting up an independent, impartial public inquiry into Veterans UK.

He said: “When our service personnel return from combat zones and years of service, and retire from their roles in the armed forces, they shouldn’t then be expected to wage a battle against bureaucracy to obtain the support they’re rightfully entitled to.

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“Our armed forces aren’t demanding riches. They want basic support to continue their lives and care for their families.”

The plea comes as Scottish Secretary Alister Jack paid tribute to military personnel north of the border ahead of Armed Forces Day celebrations today, with parades being held in Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

Mr Jack, who met with force representatives at the Royal Highland Show on Thursday, said: “It’s right that we celebrate and say thanks to our much-cherished community of service personnel, reserves, veterans, cadets and families for their unwavering commitment in helping keep us safe.

Veterans UK was contacted for comment.