Ministry of Defence
Office for Veterans' Affairs marks one year since creation
- Also published by:
- Cabinet Office
An opinion piece from Johnny Mercer, Minister for Defence People and Veterans, to mark one year since the establishment of the Office for Veterans' Affairs. The article was originally published by the Telegraph.
The UK has always held our veterans in high esteem. No one does Remembrance quite like us and every year millions of Brits buy poppies, lay wreaths and mark moments of silence to commemorate those who have fought for our country. In recent years we’ve seen a record amount of public giving to Service Charities, honouring the sacrifice of so many in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But Governments of all colours have been historically deficient when it comes to looking after those who have served. Some brilliant initiatives and individuals have achieved genuinely excellent outcomes for our veterans.
But on the whole, services have been disjointed, hard to access and at times too focussed on inputs rather than actually asking what it feels like to be a veteran in the United Kingdom.
This Government has changed that. Established just a few days after the Prime Minister came to office one year ago, the Office for Veterans’ Affairs has already overseen a significant shift in the Government’s provision for veterans. From railcards to guaranteed interviews in the Civil Service; from a National Insurance holiday for employers of veterans to including a question for veterans in the 2021 census for the first time – much has been achieved. Prioritising veterans for new homes; helping shape a through-life healthcare plan in the NHS for service personnel and their families; commissioning long term studies to provide evidence-based policy for the years ahead – anyone who knows me and knows my history would understand I wouldn’t say it if it were not true: this Government has genuinely shifted the dial in these matters. And I’m proud of it.
Blending this with increasingly important private and third sector work, the ambition – to make the United Kingdom the best place in the world to be an Armed Forces veteran – is now well within grasp. But there is of course more to do.
The programme of work in the years ahead is varied, and regularly updated to reflect this mission. But everything will have a different focus to the past. Instead of asking how much Government is putting into the system of veteran’s care in this country, and then why still too many are falling through the net, we have undergone a fundamental shift of perspective. Now the ethos is “what is it actually like to be an Armed Forces veteran in the UK in 2020”. That simple vision binds all we do, and I hope to move onwards from these good tactical victories, to real strategic change for our veterans in the next couple of years.
It is not a one-office or a one-person job. We all – as a nation – have a responsibility to go beyond warm words and soaring rhetoric when it comes to our veterans. Whilst change has been accelerated by COVID-19 – particularly in the third sector – there remains a role for everyone in this vision. And if we all work together, putting our veterans at the centre of our work, this will be the best country in which to be an Armed Forces veteran.
Latest News from
Ministry of Defence
Royal Marines accommodation in Lympstone reaches milestone17/09/2020 15:15:15
The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) project to build new accommodation for personnel at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM) in Devon has celebrated a major milestone.
UK Space Agency: Government backs UK companies tackling dangerous 'space junk'17/09/2020 11:24:00
Seven UK companies have been awarded a share of over £1 million to help track debris in space.
RAF looks to the future on Battle of Britain Day16/09/2020 13:15:00
On the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain a special day of events was hosted at RAF Waddington, the home of the RAF’s intelligence gathering assets, showcasing how the RAF are ready to meet the challenges of today, and the emerging threats of tomorrow.
Innovation call for urban drone technology15/09/2020 13:25:00
The Ministry of Defence is seeking new ways to assist military drone operators in urban environments in a new funding competition.
Defence Secretary announces investment in strategic Omani port14/09/2020 12:15:00
The Defence Secretary has announced a further £23.8 million investment in the UK logistics hub at Duqm port
Chief of Defence Intelligence comments on threats the UK will face in coming decades14/09/2020 11:10:00
Lieutenant-General Jim Hockenhull looks to the future, outlining the changing character of the threat and the role of UK Defence
UK leads multi-national task group of warships above the Arctic Circle in demonstration of freedom of navigation11/09/2020 10:15:00
The Royal Navy has led a multi-national task group of warships and aircraft into the High North for the first time in more than twenty years on an operation to demonstrate freedom of navigation above the Arctic Circle.
DIO awards new cost price analysis contract10/09/2020 13:15:00
DIO has awarded the Cost Price Analytical Capability (CPAC) contract. The contract will make DIO a more intelligent customer when costing infrastructure programmes.