Support for veterans: strategy

How we will take forward the Strategy for our Veterans and achieve the best possible outcomes for our veterans and their families now and in the future.


The advent of a 10-year UK-wide Veterans’ Strategy is extremely welcome. The long-term, outcomes focused approach it takes is a significant step forward. Implementation will provide an important opportunity to move beyond the comfort zone of long established structures and systems, and focus our efforts on how best to support our veterans and their families. However, I would offer a word of caution. Unless governments and administrations continue to work jointly in meaningful collaboration, they will not be able to deliver on the vision articulated in the Strategy. A UK-wide consistency of purpose is needed from policy makers if we are to ensure our veterans are always well served wherever they choose to settle.

The Scottish Government’s wide-ranging consultation is to be applauded and the feedback is thought-provoking. By and large it shows a relatively buoyant veterans population who are prospering in the civilian world following their time in the Armed Forces. However, it also highlights areas where veterans continue to need assistance and support and will do so for many years to come. This is consistent with my own analysis of the Scottish Government’s progress against my predecessor’s recommendations for improvement, which spanned similar issues. I am pleased to see such a wide ranging list of proposed actions in response to the Strategy consultation and I will be keeping a close eye on how these are supported and delivered.

Finally, the subject of transition from Service life to civilian life. The feedback from the consultation is clear. Transition is of fundamental importance in a successful move from Service life to civilian life. This subject is the current focus of my work and I have recently published a strategic overview of transition – Positive Futures: Getting Transition Right in Scotland, which will be followed by a series of more in-depth thematic papers focussing on the specific elements which make for a successful transition.

Veterans have so much to offer society and it is incumbent on us all to ensure their skills and talents are recognised and utilised, and their needs and aspirations supported and encouraged.

The Strategy for Our Veterans: Taking the Strategy Forward in Scotland

Charlie Wallace
Scottish Veterans Commissioner

Veterans Scotland welcomed the announcement of the Veterans Strategy in 2018. It was particularly refreshing to see the Governments across the United Kingdom come together to take collective ownership of the Strategy and put the needs of the veterans community before party politics, an achievement that has been widely applauded by stakeholders. We were also pleased that our members, and indeed all of the veterans community and the many organisations that support them, have had the opportunity to contribute to the consultation on the Strategy, whether through the many engagements that have been conducted by the Scottish Government or through the public consultation that ran across the United Kingdom until early 2019.

It is significant that the consultation highlighted that the vast majority of veterans thrive in civilian society, bringing to bear their often unique skills, experience and personal attributes that service in the Armed Forces provides. The negative stereotypes about veterans that are often portrayed by the media continue to be a source of frustration for many in the sector and it is important that these are tackled wherever possible. But the consultation has also rightly reinforced that,
for a variety of sometimes multiple and complex reasons, some veterans do need help and support and their needs will change in the years to come.

Though there are no major surprises in the feedback reported in this document, it is helpful that we now have a stronger evidence base from across the United Kingdom that informs where support services are working effectively or not or will need to alter to reflect the changing needs of veterans and their families. It is encouraging to see such a comprehensive list of measures planned in response to the Strategy but evaluating the effectiveness of these actions, and those announced by the other Governments, will be the real test of the Veterans Strategy’s success.

Veterans Scotland will look to the Scottish Veterans Commissioner to continue his important role in holding the Scottish Government to account on support for veterans in Scotland and to highlight issues that need to be addressed, whether by the Governments or the many public, private and third sector organisations that provide supporting services in the sector. For our part, Veterans Scotland will continue to engage closely with the Scottish Government and other stakeholders, on behalf of our member charities, which play such a vital role in supporting our veterans, to identify where things are working well or need attention and to help ensure that those in a position to make the necessary changes are clear on where we believe their priorities should be focused.

The Strategy for Our Veterans: Taking the Strategy Forward in Scotland

Chris Hughes
Veterans Scotland



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