Support for veterans
15 Jul 2008 05:03 PM
Representatives of the Scottish Government will meet with veterans' organisations today to discuss how to improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of men and women who have given selfless duty to their country.
The meeting comes three weeks into the Government's consultation on the wellbeing and welfare of Scotland's veterans and armed forces.
Yesterday, Minister for Parliamentary Business Bruce Crawford encouraged all veterans to take part and help shape the support available to them and their colleagues - building on the measures already in place to tackle specific but important issues in the areas of health, housing and transport.
As a measure of the Government's determination to improve the support available for veterans, Mr Crawford also announced a doubling of the funding available through the Scottish Veterans' Fund, from £40,000 to £80,000 per year.
Mr Crawford said:
"All of us recognise the tremendous contribution made by our veterans in communities right across the country.
"It goes without saying that Scotland's veterans deserve our gratitude for their selfless duty to this country. But gratitude alone will not help those who need help in overcoming barriers to obtaining certain key services.
"That is why we have acted to bring in measures which will have a positive impact in the areas of health, housing and transport. Moreover, and in discussion with veterans' organisations, we are consulting with veterans over the summer on other measures aimed at best delivering other health, housing, transport and education services to our 600,000 veterans. It is important that the veterans, for whom these measures are intended, have an opportunity to comment on how they should be introduced.
"Today's meeting provides an early opportunity for veterans groups to discuss with us the kind of support they would like from the Scottish Government. Among other things we will be delighted to confirm a doubling of the financial support available to them. Our veterans deserve the best and we will work with them to help deliver the best."
It was announced last month that the Scottish Government would implement, with immediate effect, the following:
* Health - state-of-the-art prosthetic limbs for veterans returning injured from combat operations, fitted and maintained by trained clinicians and funded by the Scottish Government
* Housing - to help war veterans and serving armed forces personnel get a foot on the property ladder, they will be given priority access to shared equity schemes
The Government has also proposed extending the concessionary fares scheme for elderly and disabled people to ensure that injured forces veterans will be included and able to benefit from free public transport.
A wide-ranging consultation was launched on June 26, 2008 to canvass opinion on how best to deliver housing, health, transport and education services to Scotland's veterans and Armed Forces' personnel.
The Scottish Government's consultation, 'Scotland's Veterans and Forces' Communities: meeting their well-being and welfare needs' was launched by Sir Alistair Irwin, President of Veterans Scotland at a reception in the Scottish Parliament on 26 June. The Consultation will run until August 29.
The Scottish Government will consult with key stakeholders on its approach to delivering services to armed forces personnel, veterans, and their families. Areas covered will include healthcare, housing, education and transport.
The Scottish Veterans Fund was launched in April this year. The funding made available was £40,000 for 2008/09 but today's announcement means that £80,000 will be available for this and each of the next two years.
Veterans issues are a reserved matter for Westminster but through the devolution settlement the Scottish Government has responsibility to Scotland's veterans in housing, health and social care, education, skills and employability, and social inclusion.Related Information