Our Armed Forces, veterans and their families are a true asset to Scotland. I am passionate about championing their interests and ensuring that they receive the best possible levels of support both while serving and when they move to civilian life.
That is why, in 2012, I commissioned ‘Our Commitments’ setting out our strategic direction, complementing the values of the Armed Forces Covenant. As we near the end of this Scottish Parliament, this is a chance to renew our commitments and reflect on how we should direct energies and resources. This Scottish Government has a proud track record of working in partnership with a close-knit community of local authorities, wider public sector and charities, delivering support to our Armed Forces and veterans. We now have a widespread network of Armed Forces and Veterans Champions, hard-wiring consideration of their needs into the public sector.
Levels of scrutiny have been enhanced. We have had an active cross-party group in the Scottish Parliament and, in 2014, the First Minister appointed the first ever Scottish Veterans Commissioner. This ground-breaking appointment is the first of its kind in the UK. The Commissioner - Royal Navy veteran Eric Fraser CBE - is operationally independent from the Scottish Government and charities, giving freedom to offer an impartial view and the clout to make authoritative recommendations for improvement. Scotland has created truly innovative models of collaborative working, especially in healthcare and housing.
I am proud of Scotland’s achievements, but we must not be complacent - there is more we can and should do. We must take our Champions network to the next level arming them with better advice and support. We must engage more effectively with private sector employers to improve veterans’ chances of securing high quality employment. Many have truly remarkable experience under their belts and they should aim high after they leave the military, securing a fulfilling career. I am determined that we should focus efforts to remove any barriers for those seeking civilian employment, and to promote veterans as a valuable resource with employers. My ambition is to make Scotland the most attractive destination for Service leavers and their families, offering high living standards, great job prospects and a society that respects and values their contribution.
There is also a small but important number of veterans who struggle to make an effective transition to civilian life. I am adamant that no one should suffer disadvantage as a result of service, and they deserve the best possible help that society can offer. We have made significant progress over the course of this Parliament to address gaps in service provision and to improve support for those who need it most. I give my assurance that, despite the financial pressures we all face, the Scottish Government will continue to support and champion our Armed Forces and veterans.
Those of whom we ask so much, deserve nothing less.
Keith Brown MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Veterans
Email: Nadine Milne