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.

Cross-Cutting Factors

Collaboration and Co-ordination

Unforgotten Forces Consortium

We have agreed to fund the Unforgotten Forces Consortium for a further three years up to 2025-26, providing a total of £950,000, to continue supporting their work to improve the lives of veterans over the age of 60 across Scotland and working to improve collaboration, sharing of best practice and cross referrals across its 18 partner organisations.

Cross-Government Working

We remain an active member of the Armed Forces Covenant’s governance structure and continue to engage with the MOD and the Office for Veterans’ Affairs. Additionally, we continue to contribute to the Covenant and Veterans Annual Report and will signpost to our own annual report.

Scottish Veterans Fund

The £500,000 Scottish Veterans Fund launched a new, three-year funding round from 2023-24, for projects supporting veterans and their families across Scotland. The priorities for the Fund this year were support in the face of the cost of living crisis, Early Service Leavers and projects encouraging collaborative working across the veterans community. Seventeen projects have been funded for 2023-24, six of which offer support to veterans impacted by the cost of living crisis and two supporting Early Service Leavers.

Veterans and Armed Forces Champions

The previous Cabinet Secretary for Veterans met with the network of Local Authority Armed Forces and Veterans Champions in early 2023 after which the Champions’ Role Description was refined and updated. The current Veterans Minister again met with the Local Authority Champions in the summer with a focus on improved collaboration between the various networks of Champions. To this end, we promoted and shared with the Champions resources available on the Veterans Assist website to encourage improved collaboration between the networks across Scotland.

Relationships with the Services and Families Federations

We are committed to maintaining our excellent relationships with the Armed Forces and Families Federations in Scotland. We continue to hold regular discussions with the Federations across the three Services to ensure a joined up approach to supporting Service families in Scotland.

We also attended, and presented at, the Firm Base Conference in November 2022 and continue to have regular scheduled discussions with the three Services to ensure a collaborative approach to supporting them and the veterans community in Scotland.

Scottish Veterans Commissioner

We continue to fund the Scottish Veterans Commissioner (SVC) and remain fully supportive of her work and the priorities she has set in her new three-year Strategic Plan. We continue to work towards the delivery of the outstanding Commissioner recommendations and we again contributed to and welcome the SVC’s 2023 Progress Report.

Armed Forces Covenant Legislation

We have been engaging with the MOD as they consider the UK Government’s and the Devolved Governments’ role with respect to the functions already within scope of the Armed Forces Covenant Duty in the areas of education, healthcare and housing and to what extent they currently consider the Covenant principles. We have provided evidence of existing, extensive Covenant consideration and will continue to work with the MOD during this review, which is expected to be published by the end of 2023.

Cross-UK Veterans Strategy Commitments

We remain committed to working with the UK Government (UKG) and other Devolved Governments, especially in support of the delivery of those UKG Veterans Strategy Action Plan commitments which affect veterans across the UK.

We continue to regularly meet partners across UKG through various fora including the Devolved Governmentss and Data Working Groups. In particular, this year we worked closely with the UK Government and the independent review team leading the LGBT veterans review to discuss the report’s findings and determine how Scotland could support the review. We welcomed the review’s publication in July and we are committed to supporting LGBT veterans and determining how to deliver on the report’s two suggestions for Scotland.


Scotland’s Census

We have worked with National Records of Scotland (NRS) to develop analytical proposals and outputs for the veterans Census question, reflecting evidence priorities and stakeholder preferences. We will continue to work with NRS and stakeholders to meet user needs as NRS progress with their publication schedule. NRS aims to begin publishing topic data from the Census from summer 2024. This will include data on the size of the veteran population across Scotland. More detailed data on the characteristics of the veteran population are scheduled for release later in 2024.

Through regular engagements with counterparts in the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Office for Veterans’ Affairs (OVA), we have continued to seek opportunities to learn from the analysis and outputs delivered for the England and Wales 2021 Census.

Scottish Household Surveys

The first veterans-related findings from the three Scottish Government major household surveys – Scottish Household Survey, Scottish Crime and Justice Survey and the Scottish Health Survey – will be available in late 2023. Having the same veterans question from the Census in each of these national surveys will help us to improve our understanding of the profile, circumstances and needs of veterans in Scotland which in turn will help inform policy and services.

We are in the latter stages of developing a monitoring framework for the Veterans Strategy in Scotland. This work has helped identify a number of new evidence sources and improved usage of existing sources. When complete the framework will allow us to see how outcomes are changing over time.

Additional Data Sources

We worked with ONS, OVA and the other Devolved Governments to develop and facilitate the first UK-wide Veterans’ Survey. The survey, funded by the OVA and delivered by ONS, collected information from veterans on a range of topics to understand current access to and perception of services in addition to veterans’ experiences and circumstances. We liaised with the Scottish Prison Service to help enable the inclusion of veterans in prison. The survey ran from November 2022 to February 2023, with over 2000 responses received from veterans in Scotland. First findings are expected in 2023 and we have submitted analysis proposals to ONS, and will continue to work with them to develop findings and outputs for Scotland.

We have worked with NRS and kept the feasibility of using data linkage to analyse veteran suicides in Scotland under review. This includes consideration of the report by the Office for National Statistics in August 2023, which found severe limitations to the linkage of Service leavers and 2011 Census data in England and Wales, with an impact on the quality of analytical findings. This may suggest analysis of veteran suicide in Scotland through data linkage would be better based on the 2022 Census, which specifically identifies veterans within the population, and the years that follow. We will continue to engage with counterparts in the UK Government on developments with the previously announced new statistics on veteran suicide in England and Wales, and how this may inform similar work in Scotland.

We continue to progress the data-sharing agreement between the MOD and the Scottish Government. The agreement, which is pending final sign-off by the MOD, will enable the MOD to provide us with annual updates of the Service Leaver Database. Once acquired, the data will be held in the Administrative Data Research Scotland secure infrastructure and made available to researchers wishing to undertake projects to generate policy insight in this field.

Perception and Recognition

Promoting Veterans as Assets

This year we launched a campaign working with the business community to help employers understand the benefits that veterans bring to the workforce. The campaign promoted and discussed the benefits of employing veterans, and helped businesses to understand how they can bring veterans into their organisation, with a particular focus on reaching the small and medium enterprise sector. Additionally, a new website,, was launched to provide employers with information on the benefits of recruiting veterans, tips on how to integrate them into the workforce via employer case studies, and signposting employers to the organisations who can help them reach the veterans workforce.

Employers, stakeholders and industry experts were welcomed to Hampden Park in Glasgow on 15 March to hear from a wide range of speakers and discuss the benefits of hiring veterans. At least four veterans were recruited following the event by employers who had attended.


We continue to work with Legion Scotland and Poppyscotland, amongst other key stakeholders, to support a wide range of commemorative events and ensure that we are represented at them, demonstrating our commitment to recognising the contributions made by veterans and serving personnel. For example, in July the Veterans Minister attended the memorial event with the McCrae’s Battalion Trust at the Contalmaison Cairn in Northern France to honour those who fell during the Battle of the Somme. This year also marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War and the Veterans Minister laid a wreath at, a commemorative event at the Scottish Korean War Memorial in Bathgate.

This year we also launched the Medals Replacement Scheme, under which we will fund the cost of replacing lost or stolen medals for eligible veterans resident in Scotland.



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