A MAJOR fundraising drive to help Scotland’s ex-servicemen and women has been launched.
The Give A Little For Veterans campaign aims to raise funds to support more than 31,000 members of Legion Scotland.
The cash will provide befriending and comradeship support, grants, and disablement pension appeals advice to ex-servicemen and women of all ages.
Former Royal Highland Fusilier John Thompson, 73, helped launch the campaign and also features in the television adverts along with former Wren Debbie Whittaker, from Livingston, and ex-Royal Artillery Sgt Mark White, from Lanarkshire.
Mr Thompson has been a member of Legion Scotland for more than 40 years and is president of his home branch in Livingston.
He said: “When you serve in the Armed Forces it becomes your home, your life and your family. When you leave you lose all that.
“I’ve seen veterans literally transform after they’ve joined the branch; feelings of isolation and loneliness begin to lift because they’re surrounded by folk who understand them.
“What Legion Scotland does is vital but it needs support to continue the good work that it does, bringing veterans together and helping many of them get back on their feet after facing difficult times.”
Ms Whittaker, 50, said: “After I left the Royal Navy it took me a long time to find a place where I felt I belonged.
“When I moved to Edinburgh I meet other Wrens who were members of Legion Scotland. They encouraged me to come to social events at their branch, and the people I meet there made me feel welcomed and understood.
“Their friendship spurred me to move to Livingston and now I feel as if I have found a place I can call home.
“There is no reason for any veteran to feel alone with Legion Scotland around.”
The charity’s chief executive officer Kevin Gray said inquiries to the head office’s wellbeing team increased by 94 per cent in 2015 compared to the previous year and 230 veterans were supported through disablement pensions appeals tribunals which “helped secure around £350,000 of vital funds that otherwise they might not have received”.
The charity campaign running throughout April asks people to consider donating by text or online.
Charlie Brown, Legion Scotland acting national chairman, said: “As a nation we are very good at remembering those who fell in conflicts but sometimes we forget those who survived, or are unaware of the difficulties some may face after leaving the Armed Forces.
“Some veterans struggle at different points in their lives and Legion Scotland is there to provide the support they need when they need it.
“It’s also important to recognise that many veterans are young people, something that is not always appreciated.”
n Members of the public can donate as little as £3 by texting ‘LSCO15 £3’ to 70070 or online at www.legionscotland.org.uk.