We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

Lib Dem MPs call for Government to provide greater support for armed forces veterans

April 22, 2009 1:17 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

In a debate secured by Roger Williams on armed forces veterans, Liberal Democrat MPs questioned the Government on its poor record for providing support to veterans and called for more to be done to help them make the transition from life in the armed forces back into society.

Opening the debate in Westminster Hall, Roger called on the Government to provide a support network to help veterans to find employment and housing, and to obtain training and health care. He emphasised the distinction that must be made with armed forces personnel, arguing that whilst a career in the armed forces is a very rewarding one it often involves a considerable risk of injury. It is therefore necessary, he argued, to make sure that arms forces personnel and veterans are offered a level of support that corresponds to the risks they are facing: "All too often, veterans are forgotten about when they have finished active duty and left the services."

Roger praised the voluntary sector for providing excellent support to veterans. He congratulated the Royal British Legion's 'Honour the Covenant' campaign that has drawn attention to the failures in health and welfare support for armed service personnel and their families. However, he warned the Government "not to rely on the generosity" of the public to cover its own responsibilities.

Roger highlighted the problems of mental health issues for veterans, which he described as an area "too often ignored". He argued this is a particular problem for the growing number of reservists called into service, who were not necessarily prepared for full service when they enlisted. He also highlighted the need to monitor personnel who have been deployed for more than 13 months.

Mark Williams also spoke in the debate. He highlighted how untreated mental health illnesses increase the need for support in all areas of veterans' lives. He argued it makes it very difficult for veterans to adjust to normal life, to hold down a job, and can lead to homelessness. He quoted estimates that up to one in every ten homeless people have a background in the armed forces, and emphasised the importance not just of the transition from the armed forces but also of ensuring that veterans have an acceptable environment to make this transition to.

Speaking from the party's frontbench, Willie Rennie called on the Government to provide examples of how its priority healthcare programme has impacted on veterans. He emphasised his support for the scheme and his hope that it will provide veterans with the healthcare support they deserve.

See the full debate here