Support for the Veterans and Armed Forces Community 2023

This report highlights our continuing support for the Veterans and Armed Forces community in Scotland and provides an update on this year’s achievements and work undertaken to improve support and access to services for our Armed Forces, Veterans and their families.

Minister for Veterans Foreword

I am particularly delighted to present the Scottish Government’s seventh annual update to Parliament on our support throughout the past year for the Veterans and Armed Forces community in Scotland, given my recent return to the role as the Minister responsible for this important area.

I am really pleased to note the progress that has been made across a number of aspects of support for our veterans and their families. This has only been achieved through the dedication, commitment and teamwork of public, private and third sector organisations and we should be immensely proud of that collective endeavour.

On a personal note, I have been genuinely thrilled to return to this post. I have already visited a number of veterans charities and partners and spoken at several events. I also had the opportunity to attend this year’s memorial gathering with the McCrae’s Battalion Trust at the Contalmaison Cairn in Northern France to honour those who fell during the Battle of the Somme. That was a really special event and I was honoured to be invited.

This year of course marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War and I was privileged to lay a wreath at the commemoration at the Korean War Memorial near Bathgate. All Scottish Servicemen and all those serving with a Scottish Regiment who died during Service in the Korean War are remembered within the Rolls of Honour at the Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle and we will never forget the ultimate sacrifice made by those, and all other, members of the Armed Forces.

These past months have reminded me of the outstanding charity sector we have here in Scotland and their dedicated and collaborative approach to improving the lives of veterans and their families across the country.

Collaboration is essential to ensuring that different organisations, each of whom can bring something unique to the table, can come together to deliver a joined-up, coherent approach to support and services. And that is all the more important in the current, financially challenging, circumstances.

The Scottish Government has sought to encourage collaboration through our annual £500,000 Scottish Veterans Fund and further demonstrated our commitment to this approach by agreeing to fund the Unforgotten Forces Consortium to support older veterans for a further three years, with £950,000 until 2026.

In addition to encouraging collaborative working across the veterans community, this year’s Scottish Veterans Fund prioritised support in the face of the cost of living crisis and for Early Service Leavers.

I welcomed this year the publication of Lord Etherton’s LGBT Veterans Independent Review which examined the effect that the pre-2000 ban on homosexuality in the UK Armed Forces has had on LGBT veterans. The review is an emotive, and at times extremely difficult, read but it is hugely important that people have had the opportunity to share their experiences. It is now imperative that action is taking on the report’s recommendations and we are looking closely at how best to deliver on the two suggestions directed at Scotland.

Helping veterans and their families to move into meaningful, fulfilling employment after Service continues to be a top priority for us. This year saw the formal launch of the military skills discovery tool developed by the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework Partnership, which is proving to be a vital instrument for Service leavers and employers to better recognise and articulate the range of outstanding skills which our veterans can bring to the work place. We are also committed to employing more veterans here in the Scottish Government and I am delighted that veterans can now get a guaranteed interview if they apply for a job in the Government, providing they meet the minimum criteria for the role. What’s more, this year we also launched a campaign working with the business community to help employers further understand the benefits that veterans bring to the workforce.

Obtaining greater data on the veterans community also remains a priority. This year we have worked with stakeholders to develop proposals and define the outputs we need from the veterans Census question. In addition, the first veterans-related findings from the three Scottish Government major household surveys and the first UK-wide veterans survey are expected this year. Only a few years ago we had little-to-no data, but now we are on the cusp of having lots of really rich and useful information which we can use to better develop policy and understand how and where we can improve services and support for veterans and their families.

This report provides a more detailed summary of the range of work that has been done this year in support of the veterans and Armed Forces community in Scotland. It demonstrates our ongoing and unwavering commitment to ensuring that veterans and their families can get the right support, at the right time and in the right place and that they suffer no disadvantage as a result of their Service.

I would like to give my personal thanks to all the individuals and organisations who have contributed to these efforts during the past year and those who continue to work hard every day to support our veterans and Armed Forces community.

Graeme Dey Minister for Veterans



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