TMT is running a series of articles on the Armed Forces Covenant, the promise made by the nation that those who serve or have served in the armed forces, and their families, are treated fairly. The first five articles will explain how the Covenant aims to help each of the beneficiary categories identified by the MOD and the last will look at the implications for businesses. The first five cover:
The “Business” category will also take a look at the implications for local councils and similar organisations in terms of their voluntary and legal obligations to the people covered by the five groups above.
The majority of the information provided below is taken directly from government websites with links provided to various other charitable sites. TMT has tested all links provided here and confirmed that they work. The only link that did not work referred to a breakfast club for veterans which has been suspended for some unknown legal reasons; because of this, that link and any related text have not been included here.
In Part 1 we take a look at the implications for Veterans.
The Armed Forces Covenant
An Enduring Covenant Between
The People of the United Kingdom
All those who serve or have served in the Armed Forces of the Crown and their Families
The first duty of Government is the defence of the realm. Our Armed Forces fulfil that responsibility on behalf of the Government , sacrificing some civilian freedoms, facing danger and, sometimes, suffering serious injury or death as a result of their duty.
Families also play a vital role in supporting the operational effectiveness of our Armed Forces. In return, the whole nation has a moral obligation to the members of the Naval Service, the Army and the Royal Air Force, together with their families. They deserve our respect and support, and fair treatment.
Those who serve in the Armed Forces, whether regular or Reserve, those who have served in the past, and their families, should face no disadvantage compared to other citizens in the provision of public and commercial services. Special consideration is appropriate in some cases, especially for those who have given most such as the injured and the bereaved.
This obligation involves the whole of society: it includes voluntary and charitable bodies, private organisations, and the actions of individuals in supporting the Armed Forces. Recognising those who have performed military duty unites the country and demonstrates the value of their contribution. This has no greater expression than in upholding this Covenant.
Veterans taking part in the 60th anniversary of WWII, chat by the Guards memorial near St James’s Park, London.
What is being done?
The covenant focusses on helping members of the armed forces community have the same access to government and commercial services and products as any other citizen. This support is provided in a number of areas including:
Education and family well-being
Having a home
Starting a new career
Access to healthcare
Who is involved?
The covenant supports serving personnel, service leavers, veterans, and their families. And is fulfilled by the different groups that have committed to making a difference. These include:
Single services (Royal Navy, British Army, Royal Air Force)
Businesses of all sizes
Cadet forces and their adult volunteers
Does it apply to you?
If you are a member of the armed forces, a veteran, or a family member, the Armed Forces Covenant offers a wide variety of support to ensure you are being treated fairly.
If you are a business, or a community organisation, you can find out how to show your support.
Visit Armed Forces Covenant guidance and support for information on the breadth of the covenant and the support it provides. https://www.armedforcescovenant.gov.uk/ This site will help direct you to the most relevant information regarding policies, services and projects that you can benefit from.
As a veteran of the armed forces, you continue to be a part of the armed forces community. The Armed Forces Covenant can help you in your life as a veteran. Some policies will apply to you and others will not. This section will direct you to the right place on GOV.UK and other trusted resources so that you can see what is available.
General support for Veterans
Veterans UK is the MOD’s dedicated veterans support organisation. It provides assistance on many issues including MOD’s injury and bereavement compensation schemes, armed forces pensions, benefits, housing and welfare.
Free Helpline (UK only): 0808 1914 218
Telephone (overseas): +44 1253 866 043
Opening times: 7:30 am to 6:30 pm Monday to Thursday. And 7:30 am to 5:00 pm Friday
Visit Veterans UK for more information. https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/veterans-uk
Veterans Gateway is the first point of contact for veterans seeking support. https://www.armedforcescovenant.gov.uk/support-and-advice/veterans/vg/
Visit Household Quotes for more information on housing and financial assistance. https://householdquotes.co.uk/help-for-veterans/
Find out more about the Veterans Advisory and Pensions Committee who serve and support ex-servicemen and women, their widows or widowers and their immediate family members. https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/veterans-advisory-and-pensions-committees-x13/about
Getting financial advice
Managing your money now and in the future can be confusing for any of us, but you can get get advice and support specific to those in the armed forces community.
Find out about pensions: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/pensions-and-compensation-for-veterans
And compensation: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/armed-forces-compensation
Find out if you are eligible for the Aged Veterans Fund grant: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/aged-veterans-fund-guidance-on-how-to-apply
If you have been seriously injured as a result of service, you may entitled to the Armed Forces Independence Payment: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/faq-on-the-armed-forces-independance-payment
Find out how the DWP’s enhanced access to Jobcentre Plus services might affect you: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/jobcentre-plus-services-for-the-armed-forces-and-their-families
Find out about online and high street discounts that are available to you through membership to the Defence Discount Service: https://www.defencediscountservice.co.uk/
Veterans’ access to healthcare
The following statement appears on the NHS Choices website:
“All veterans are entitled to priority access to NHS care (including hospital, primary or community care) for conditions associated to their time within the armed forces (service-related). However this is always subject to clinical need and does not entitle you to jump the queue ahead of someone with a higher clinical need.
If the NHS service you are dealing with is unaware of priority treatment, you are actively encouraged to tell them about it and ensure you have told them that you have served.” (https://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Militaryhealthcare/veterans-families-reservists/Pages/veterans.aspx)
The overall picture regarding English NHS support for Veterans can be found at: https://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Militaryhealthcare/veterans-families-reservists/Pages/veterans.aspx which include a useful FAQs section.
Be aware that slightly different approaches are taken by the separate Scottish and Welsh NHS services.
The guiding principles for Scottish healthcare for Veterans may be found at: https://www.nhsinform.scot/care-support-and-rights/health-rights/access/health-rights-for-veteran
The general rules are the same as for England in that priority treatment will be given to Veterans, but in the case of Scotland it is made clear that this is restricted to medical conditions that are a direct result of military service.
Welsh NHS support for Veterans is covered on their website: http://www.veteranswales.co.uk/ with specific aims being provided at: http://www.veteranswales.co.uk/about-us/aims-and-outcomes.html. Less emphasis is placed upon “priority” treatment, but the list of aims with regard to veterans and their families is comprehensive and amounts to much the same thing as in the rest of the UK.
General MOD and Department of Health support services information can be found on GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/mental-health-support-for-the-uk-armed-forces
Mental health support for the armed forces community can be found on the Gov.UK site at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/mental-health-support-for-the-uk-armed-forces
The NHS provides dedicated mental health services across the UK that offer a range of treatments and support for veterans and those due to be discharged from the armed forces. This includes recognising the early signs of mental health problems and providing access to early treatment and support, as well as therapeutic treatment for complex mental health difficulties and psychological trauma. These services work closely with a range of organisations to provide a complete package of care to help patients enjoy a healthy life. For referrals in England, the contact sheet can be found here:https://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Militaryhealthcare/veterans-families-reservists/Documents/TIL%20veterans%20mental%20health%20services%20contacts%20for%20the%20web.pdf
The NHS can also provide mental health support through the Big White Wall service . This service is available for free to serving personnel, veterans and their families. The link is: https://apps.beta.nhs.uk/?category=Mental%20Health#!
The Ministry of Defence has launched the Defence people mental health and wellbeing strategy which can be seen at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/defence-people-mental-health-and-wellbeing-strategy It provides a renewed focus on promotion of mental health wellbeing and the prevention of mental ill health for serving personnel, veterans, families and MOD civil servants.
The Veterans Hearing Fund provides support to veterans who acquired hearing loss during service. The website is: http://support.britishlegion.org.uk/app/answers/detail/a_id/1633/~/veterans-hearing-fund or you can call them at 0808 802 8080 7 days a week, 8 till 8.
The Mefloquine Single Point of Contact, launched September 2016, is for current and former service personnel who have concerns about their experience of Mefloquine (commercially known as Lariam). The MOD takes the health and well-being of its personnel seriously and acknowledges its duty of care to provide the best possible support to them. This service provides information and signposting to a range of services to address their concerns. The website link is: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/mefloquine-advice-service-for-former-and-serving-personnel/mefloquine-advice-service-for-former-and-serving-personnel
Having a home
Having a comfortable home is an important part of our well-being. Whether you are renting or thinking about buying a home, there is advice and support available to you.
Own Your Own Home provides a range of schemes that make home-buying more affordable. The website is at: https://www.ownyourhome.gov.uk/schemes-all/
Find out about the support SSAFA may be able to provide you: https://www.ssafa.org.uk/help-you/veterans This ranges from bereavement support through housing and home life, health, finance, and various other issues that may arise in civilian life.
Find out about the lifelong support The Royal British Legion provides for the armed forces community. https://www.britishlegion.org.uk/ This includes jobs and careers, financial advice, and the veterans medical funds programme.
Service leavers guide
The Service Leavers Guide offers information and advice prior to and after leaving regular service. The guide, which is updated annually, contains information about armed forces’ pensions, resettlement, reserve liability and support from charitable organisations. This can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/service-leavers-pack
For further information on government support available to veterans, as well as some key facts on veterans in the UK, please see the Veterans Key Facts guide. This is available as a PDF and can be found at: https://www.armedforcescovenant.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Veterans-Key-Facts.pdf
Have your say
The Armed Forces Covenant recognises that Service Personnel, Veterans and their families can have more difficulty accessing commercial products and services than other citizens, we call this commercial disadvantage. If you have experienced commercial disadvantage because of your or your family members’ service, please take a moment to complete a short survey to tell us about it. You can go to the survey via: https://surveys.mod.uk/index.php/573698?lang=en