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.

Part 3 Taking the Strategy forward in Scotland

Cross-Cutting Factors

During our consultations on the Veterans Strategy, we have sought to identify where we can make improvements in each of the cross-cutting factors listed in the Strategy. The actions that are described in the pages that follow are intended to show where the consultation has provided good evidence against the cross-cutting factors and also where work can be taken forward to provide greater impact. Although not a specific cross-cutting factor or theme of the Strategy, the transition process was also highlighted as fundamental to a smooth and successful move into civilian life.

Collaboration and Co-ordination

During our consultation, stakeholders told us that

  • There is already significant collaboration across the Armed Forces and veterans sector in Scotland.
  • The value of Veterans Scotland, whose aim is to establish cooperation and coordination between veterans organisations in Scotland, to act as a focal point for all matters concerning the ex-Service community within Scotland and to represent these matters to Government at all levels, is widely recognised.
  • Effective delivery of services to veterans requires the public, private and charitable sectors to work closely together. In most cases, the services they provide complement each other. While the public sector delivers statutory support, it draws on the expertise and delivery in the charitable and private sectors.
  • The Unforgotten Forces consortium was widely regarded as an exemplar of collaboration in the veterans sector.
  • Ensuring the right support for the veterans community requires effective
    co-ordination of activities within and across governments.
  • Resources which aim to provide one-stop-shop online information for veterans are valuable. In Scotland stakeholders spoke of the contribution of both the UK wide Veterans Gateway and the Veterans Assist website, which is managed in Scotland by Veterans Scotland. However, awareness of both sites among veterans was low.
  • There is a need to recognise the bereaved and the organisations that support them such as the War Widows’ Association.
  • There are common misunderstandings about the Armed Forces Covenant, particularly around “priority treatment”.

Going forward, the Scottish Government and its partners will therefore:

  • Work closely with other governments as the Veterans Strategy is developed and implemented elsewhere in the UK.
  • Continue to support the wider sector to coordinate efforts and improve efficiency of delivery.
  • Look for ways to support organisations to share information as appropriate.

We will do this by:

  • Working with OSCR (the Scottish Charity Regulator) and Veterans Scotland to expand the guidance for new charities produced by OSCR, to also specifically signpost to Veterans Scotland. While decisions on such charities will remain with OSCR, Veterans Scotland will be able to advise on gaps or potential overlaps with other Scottish charities, ensuring that applicants have a clear understanding of existing charity coverage in the sector.
  • Supporting the network of Armed Forces and Veterans Champions in Scotland, as a means of collaboration and sharing of best practice. This will include developing clear terms of reference for Local Authority Champions and engaging with NHS Champions.
  • Arranging a further meeting with the Veterans Minister and Local Authority Champions in early 2020 to develop the partnership approach in taking forward our response to the Veterans Strategy.
  • Improving sector wide information and guidance, including increased promotion of, and greater collaboration and information sharing between, Veterans Gateway and Veterans Assist.
  • Supporting and participating in cross-government work to improve understanding and raise awareness of the Armed Forces Covenant, through engagement in the cross government Covenant Reference Group.
  • Engaging with the dedicated new team of Armed Forces Champions to be established in 2020 across the Department of Work and Pensions. We will work with the staff based in Scotland, whose focus will be to help veterans and their families to find a job and receive the financial support they are entitled to, to ensure joined-up support across governments where appropriate.
  • Continuing to recognise the work of the Unforgotten Forces consortium, to improve the lives of older veterans.
  • Continuing to support the Scottish Veterans Fund. We have allocated over £1.4 million through the Scottish Veterans Fund since 2008, supporting over 150 projects across Scotland and benefiting the lives of hundreds of veterans and their families. We are again partnering with Standard Life Aberdeen in 2020/21. The Scottish Government has committed to maintain our contribution to the fund until 2022/23.
  • Build on the excellent relationships developed with the three Services in Scotland and the Families Federations.


You told us that:

  • Data is important in identifying and understanding the needs and geographical distribution of the veterans community.
  • Building a robust evidence base would contribute to more informed and effective policy making and planning to support service delivery, in addition to enabling high quality evaluation.
  • Some reliable data already exists across government, but it can be fragmented, making analysis and assessment of needs difficult.
  • Often veterans may not self-declare at the point of accessing services, which makes recording difficult.
  • Data protection legislation has seen veterans being required to repeat the same information to different support agencies and organisations, instead of that information being shared across the relevant bodies.

Going forward, the Scottish Government and its partners will therefore:

  • Look to improve nationally available data on the veterans community in the short and long term and share this with the sector more broadly.
  • Support the development of better local data, where this may be appropriate.
  • Encourage veterans to declare themselves as having a Service background at the point of accessing services, and encourage service providers to ask appropriate questions that might highlight previous military service.

We will do this by:

  • Taking forward work for collection of data on the ex-Service community through the 2021 census. The Scottish Government has proposed that the census should include a question that will be designed specifically to identify those who have previously served, providing accurate numbers of veterans and their locations in Scotland. The final census questions are planned to be agreed through the Scottish Parliament by summer 2020 and the proposal to include a veterans question has been welcomed widely by our stakeholders.
  • Recognising that the analysis of the census will take some time to filter through, beginning a programme of work that will seek to collate and assess research that has been published on the veterans community in Scotland, to identify gaps in our knowledge. The Scottish Government is also actively considering where existing data collections can be better used to understand the profile and needs of the veterans community.
  • Considering viable and robust options for carrying out further research to begin to address evidence gaps in line with our priority research questions. Throughout this process we will engage with the academic and wider expert research community.
  • Working across the Scottish and UK Governments to encourage veterans to self-declare when presenting to a service provider or agency.
  • With the UK Government, exploring data-sharing opportunities to exploit current data and identify gaps.

Perception and Recognition

During our consultation, stakeholders told us that:

  • Public understanding of the Armed Forces determines the climate into which individuals return when they leave the Services and establish a civilian life.
  • Public perceptions of veterans do not always reflect the reality.
  • Many people believe that while military service develops positive attributes, such as self-discipline, loyalty, and self-reliance, there are also incorrect perceptions that veterans are inherently likely to be institutionalised, psychologically impaired and less able to build relationships outside the Armed Forces.
  • These perceptions can make it difficult for veterans when seeking employment or adjusting back to civilian life.
  • Improved public understanding of veterans’ experience, especially dispelling popular myths, would support improvements across all six key themes of the Veterans Strategy.

Going forward, the Scottish Government and its partners will therefore:

  • Look to further promote the positive narrative that veterans and the Armed Forces community are assets to communities and employers.
  • Work with MOD, and exemplar veterans employers, for example Barclays, Standard Life Aberdeen and Scotland’s Bravest Manufacturing Company, to support the positive narrative with stronger evidence and examples of those that have made a successful transition.

We will do this by:

  • Engaging regularly with the Heads of the Armed Forces in Scotland to support the positive narrative that reinforces the vital work that the Armed Forces do in keeping our country safe and secure and the importance of their presence in Scotland.
  • Working with employers in Scotland to highlight positive case studies to help promote veterans as assets to employers, communities and our wider society.
  • Improving training and resources for service providers engaging with the Armed Forces and veterans community, so that the modern veteran is better understood by those delivering services, for example by promoting the Forces Connect products that have been developed for Local Authorities.
  • Supporting the introduction of MOD’s Veterans ID (Recognition) Card scheme.


During our consultation, stakeholders told us that:

  • In previous years, there was little priority given to preparing Service leavers for civilian life, adding to the challenges faced by many older veterans.
  • The transition process has come a long way from that which existed in the past.
  • Transition needs to start earlier, and go beyond employment into wider support, including education options, finding suitable housing and managing money.
  • The transition process needs more consistent support for Service leavers by their Chain of Command.
  • The Scottish Government and its partners should work closely with MOD to help improve the transition process.
  • Partners in Scotland, including the Careers Transition Partnership and Skills Development Scotland, are working well together to support transition.
  • Families also play a key role in a successful transition to civilian life.

Going forward, the Scottish Government and its partners will therefore:

  • Continue to engage with MOD to develop and support the transition process for those moving to Scotland.
  • Improve awareness about the services and support that are on offer in Scotland.
  • Ensure that families are recognised and supported as part of this process.

We will do this by:

  • Contributing to MOD’s plans to take forward its new Holistic Transition Policy. The new policy is intended to support Service personnel and their families to better prepare for life after the military on a through-career basis by recognising that transition is far wider than employment and that a wide range of life changing issues can affect both the Service person and their immediate family as they leave the Armed Forces. Through the policy, the single Services will identify potential vulnerable Service leavers and facilitate a referral to the new Defence Transition Services.
  • Engaging closely with the Defence Transition Services (DTS), which has been created as part of the Holistic Transition Policy, to ensure that Service leavers and their immediate families needing additional support are provided with the relevant help and guidance both during their transition and beyond.
  • Working with the DTS team based in Scotland to ensure that they are clear on the differences that apply to devolved services. We will support the local DTS team to understand and access the sources of support in the third and statutory sectors that may be of value to DTS clients, and the networks they need to be part of to become an established part of transition support in Scotland.
  • Responding to the Veterans Commissioner’s papers which focus on Transition in Scotland. The first of these, a scene setting paper, was published in December 2019.



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