Scottish Veterans Commissioner
In August 2014, the First Minister appointed Eric Fraser CBE to serve as Scotland’s first Veterans Commissioner, dedicated to promoting the interests of the ex-Service community. Scotland is leading the way for the rest of the UK by establishing this unique role. As a Royal Navy veteran with 37 years of service life, Eric Fraser is well-placed to lead this collaborative and progressive endeavour.
The Veterans Commissioner is appointed by Ministers but operationally independent of the Scottish Government, giving him the space and authority to probe and challenge policy and delivery of public services effectively. He has pursued a collaborative approach, listening to and acting on the direct experience of veterans and the organisations that represent them, fostering partnerships and working with policy-makers and providers to join up support.
His work aims to be progressive, pushing at the barriers that prevent Service leavers and veterans from realising their full potential, shifting thinking about veterans and forging a new image of them as tremendous assets to Scotland’s economy and communities.
Engagement sits right at the core of the Commissioner’s work. His dialogue with veterans, charities, local authorities, NHS, criminal justice services, academics, skills and learning providers, business leaders, political representatives and members of the public right across Scotland is helping to build a picture of what it means to be a veteran in Scotland today. This in turn has shaped his vision and approach, and directly influenced his ambitious Strategy and Work Plan, and two reports, the first of which focused on Transition in Scotland, and the second on Housing Information for Veterans.
Using first-hand evidence, the Commissioner’s reports have produced a suite of recommendations for improvement on transition and housing which are being taken forward by the Scottish Government and its partners.
Forthcoming priorities for the Commissioner’s work include skills and education, and healthcare provision.
“Working with Ministers and partners in the public, private and third sectors, I aim to create a platform for change in the way we understand and engage with the ex-Service community in Scotland. The agenda is shifting, new ways of thinking and talking about ex-Service personnel are gaining traction and policy is stepping into a new phase. Key themes are emerging so far, on the need to:
Understand - that Scotland is different for veterans and this demands a distinctive approach. There are fundamental differences in demography, legislation, administration and culture, all of which impact on the wider community, so policy and delivery need to reflect this.
Protect - the extensive and impressive support that is currently provided for veterans across Scotland while seeking to make improvements where necessary. Lots of dynamic, innovative projects and services offer support and advice for those in need but this is not always widely known or fully exploited.
Change - acknowledge that change will be required to ensure policy and service delivery reflect the emerging needs of veterans and their families. This is especially important in the provision of information which remains a significant challenge in all sectors.
Promote - partnership as this is key to successful delivery for veterans, from all backgrounds and in all circumstances. The most ground-breaking and effective initiatives are undoubtedly those in which people and organisations have stepped out of professional silos, combine efforts and work together towards a common goal.
Recognise - the many benefits veterans and their families bring to our communities and workplaces. There is an urgent need to stop seeing these individuals through the prism of need and obligation and recognise them far more for their strengths, qualities and the contribution they make across Scotland.
I have aligned this direction of travel with the Scottish Approach, building in the language of asset-based approaches to promote the contribution of veterans, championing improvement and advocating a more strategic and holistic policy framework that drives change on the macro level. The time is right to shift the vision and working with the Scottish Government and partners, I aim to be at the forefront of that movement for change.”
Eric Fraser CBE
Scottish Veterans Commissioner
Email: Nadine Milne
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